relationship

Let's go Positano

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“Sid, I am fed up with your procrastination! You keep putting things off and look at what's finally happened? I am going to cancel those days off that I had booked!”. With this, my wife stormed off, slamming the door shut behind her. I wanted to get up and yell at her. Tell her that I had been busy. Tell her that I always did the planning. Tell her that it was only human to forget. But I did nothing, except silently watch her storm out through the door. Deep down, I knew I was at fault, and that it was time to make amends. We had planned to take a special trip for our special 10th “relation-versary”. Though we’d only been married for five years, we’d been dating for five years prior to that, and the “relation-versary” was a special term that I’d coined to celebrate the day when she had finally said yes. Everything had gone smoothly up until this point. Even though April was a very busy month for her, my wife had managed to get a few days off. We’d budgeted for the trip and saved up for this occasion. Even my parents offered to look after our son, whilst we took some time off, to re-live our coupledom again. All I had to do was pick a destination, and plan the holiday. 

Image from Rentvillas.com

Italy had always been one of our dream destinations. Despite having spent almost seven years in London, we never had an opportunity to visit Italy. So I’d decided that Italy would be our destination. Of course with no access to unlimited funds, traversing all over Italy was not going to be an option. So after lots of online search (using Google of course; I’m a smart traveller after all), I had narrowed it down to a quaint coastal village in Italy, called Positano. There was another reason for this selection of mine. For those of you who read my posts, you might be familiar that Positano featured quite heavily in one of my novellas, and subconsciously I had fallen in love with the place. So you might even say that some part of the research was already done. And since my wife had loved the description of the place, I was sure the place would be a sure shot winner with her too. But here was the problem - caught in between a number of deadlines, I'd completely forgotten to book the holiday. It was only this morning, when she'd asked me about the plan, that I’d remembered that I hadn’t booked anything at all. I’d immediately set about looking for affordable air tickets and hotel bookings, neither of which I was able to find, since there was less than 3 weeks for  the outward travel dates that we were looking at.

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I was devastated. (Sounds shocking right? Especially since it was my fault that there were no tickets available ) But trust me, I was!

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I knew she’d been looking forward to this romantic getaway, especially since she’d been having a really tough time at work. As I desperately flicked through different tabs on the browser looking for a miracle, I noticed a video that had popped up via an advertisement. The snapshot of the video had a hand drawn airplane with a few passengers, an island, a ship, a camel and some other interesting objects . Though I had initially wanted to dismiss it as an advert for children,  something in the drawing caught my attention. And on closer observation, I discovered that the title of the video read Skyscanner - Born Honest- TV advert. Curious to know more, I clicked on the advert which had a voiceover by Ex-Doctor Who star Matt smith. Towards the end of the short, snappy advertisement,  a hand drawn button appeared and almost yelled out to me : "Lets go!”. (Check out the skyscanner TV advert on YouTube below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lio0r5zDDFI

Having travelled quite a bit, I was surprised that I hadn't come across Skyscanner previously.  A quick but detailed search revealed that though a relatively young organisation, they had over 25 million monthly visitors. And not only did they partner with some of the top companies in the business to provide the best list of affordable flights, they also claimed to help get great hotel and car hire deals. "This must be a sign !" I thought as I entered the search details into their easy-to-navigate website. Within seconds I had hit the jackpot. So much so that I wanted to yell out “Eureka". Somehow Skyscanner had found not one, but multiple combinations of affordable tickets to Naples, which was the nearest airport to Positano. I made a note of the details and the cost and moved on to the next step, which transferred me to the website of the partner, that let me confirm the booking at the very same price that Skyscanner had shown me.

Flights

Content that the flights were sorted, I moved on to the next thing on my list - accommodation.

Screen grab from skyscanner.co.in

Since Positano is a small town, I was conscious that the number of hotels and rooms could potentially be lower in number.  After all, I hadn’t had much luck with some of the other more prominent websites. "Why should skyscanner succeed where others had failed?" I thought.  Once again, as soon as I had hit the enter button, my screen was populated with an amazing list of  hotels all fitting my search criteria. I had the options to sort them by price, distance, rating, popularity and many others factors. In a matter of minutes, I had secured a room in a 4-star hotel, with a beautiful view of the Amalfi coast. I breathed a sigh of relief. I finally had a good shot at redeeming myself.

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But my planning wasn’t over yet. One of the reasons I'd picked Postiano was for the drive along the “Strada Statale 163”, also known as the Amalfi Drive, one of the world’s most scenic routes. It was a driver's paradise and I completely intended to make full use of it. Of course, that meant we would need a car. Having been abroad for a while, I had bad experiences of missing crucial hidden clauses whilst hiring cars. But once again, Skyscanner came to the rescue. A quick search gave me a choice of amazing cars to choose from. I made a selection, entered a few details, and within minutes, I was the proud rental owner of a Skoda Fabia. Well,  at least for 5 days.

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Once all the three were confirmed, I decided to do the next set of planning. I collated all the  confirmation emails, created a spreadsheet with a quick list of items that we needed to pack and uploaded all of these online. Once these were sorted, I carefully unpacked the gift that I had intended to originally give her - an iPad mini. After setting it up, I quickly searched the App Store and downloaded a comprehensive Italy Travel guide app by Triposo Inc. After my “smart booking” miracle with Skyscanner, this app was all that I needed to complete my “smart travel” experience. The app provided, not just information about sightseeing, major attractions, weather and restaurants, but also contained a quick guide to what needed to be packed, a phrase book of useful Italian phrases and best of all, an offline map of Italy. All absolutely free. Using the app, I marked out a tentative itinerary and saved it on the iPad mini itself.

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I impatiently tap my fingers on the table looking at the clock. It’s nearing lunch time, and my wife should be home soon. As soon as I hear the door bell buzz, I rush to open it with a smile on my face. My wife greets me with a cold, stern look, one that slightly makes my insides tremble a little bit. She walks past me and puts her handbag down on the table. I continue to smile at her, which I secretly think, starts to anger her further. I look at her and say, “Guess what?” She glares at me again, and asks “What? Did you forget something else ? Maybe our anniversary date?” Though I’m slightly taken aback, I regain my cool demeanour and thrust a package into her hand. Surprised, she opens it up to reveal the new iPad mini that I got her. Quickly, she puts the “serious” mask back on, and asks “….and this is supposed to be in place of the holiday that I was counting on? Which by the way, you managed to screw up !” . “No!” I answer with a smile still plastered on my face. I power up the iPad, point to the wallpaper of Positano that adorns the lock screen and say, THIS is your real gift!” . As her face erupts into a beautiful smile, I silently thank SkyScanner for saving my skin.

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This post was written for the “Travel Smart with Skyscanner” contest in association with IndiBlogger.

To me, smart travel means being able to find good deals, even if it is at the last minute. Something that I successfully managed to do this time around, through www.skyscanner.co.in; And it wasn’t just for travel, but for accommodation and local transport too. Additionally, I also believe in harnessing the power of technology to travel smart. So having all the confirmation saved as a document that can be retrieved from anywhere in the world, and an app that can help plan my itinerary is a must.

As for Skyscanner, there are a couple of things that make it probably one of the best online travel comparison sites I’ve used. And trust me, I’ve used plenty.

a. The app uses the widest range of airlines and online travel agents that I've ever seen. No wonder, they get the best deals. b. It is extremely user friendly and very transparent. No hidden charges and absolutely free to use c. Seamless transfer to the partner’s site and the cost is exactly as shown with no surprises jumping out at you  d. Sky Scanner's best time to book tool : A very useful tool which shows you when you need to book to get the best deals. Quite handy for the smart traveller who is also an advance planner. Check out this cool tool here or download the brochure here e. The Price alert tool : You can subscribe to their pretty amazing price alert tool  which lets you know via email, every time the price of the flight you track, changes. Completely free and if you decide that it’s not for you, you can unsubscribe at any time. No questions asked. Check it out here f: The Skyscanner Airmail - This is their weekly email newsletter which brings you the best of everything in travel - deals, tips, inspiration, advice, quite literally, everything. And it's in an amazing format too. Click here to check it out

So what are you waiting for? Check out skyscanner now, and get the best deal for your next dream holiday. Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 12.59.28 am

What guys want

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Let’s face it - women and men are different. And not just physically. We’re inherently wired differently; we communicate differently; we understand the same words and phrases, but interpret them differently; we express emotions, but differently; and yes, we execute things, very very differently. Yes, we’re so different, that sometimes it’s a wonder how men and women manage to be in a relationship with each other, without everything falling apart. But then again, in scientific terms, I suppose positives and negatives attract each other. From time immemorial, women have always complained that we men do not really understand them. We pretend to, but we really don’t. And honestly, I think it’s true. When in a relationship, men tend to try and make things work, sometimes pretending and sometimes hoping that we know what you want. Which brings me to the age old question that still stumps every living man who has been in a relationship, with a woman - What do women want?

But today’s post is not about what women want. There’s no way that a man could ever write a comprehensive list, article or book on what women really want. Today’s post is a bit of a refresher course for my female readers, who are in or have been or want to continue being in a relationship with a man. If you haven’t realised it already, men are quite complex creatures too, just like you lot. But since we are so crap at expressing ourselves, here’s a bit of run-down on some of the things, we men would love  for you to know about us, but will rarely say.

One again, before I go ahead - I’m in no way an expert, nor do I intend to give Dr.Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) a run for his money. I’m merely sharing a few guy-isms, that work for most men. As in any case, there are always going to be exceptions. So, without further ado - here goes:

Nothing, usually means just that

Man ThinkingYes, we men know that nine out of ten times, when you ladies answer one of our questions with the magical word “Nothing”, we’re in trouble. Simply because there is always something. But for us, nothing usually just means nothing. Have you ever caught your man looking like he was stoned, but he actually wasn’t? In reality, it would have looked like he was gazing out into the horizon and lost in deep thought. And you being you, would want to help him out and share the burden of whatever was bothering him. So you ask him “What’s wrong? What were you thinking about? Anything I can do to help?” And he answers “Nothing”.  Though you may find it difficult to comprehend, that’s what it is. We men are completely capable of switching off and sitting there gazing out into infinity without a single thought in our heads. Well, most of us anyway.

We hate to ask for directions /instructions

directionsDM1501_228x177We men pride ourselves on a few things. Being able to drive and get all of us from Point A to Point B (even if we don’t know the route) is high on the dude radar. So we try and use technology and maps to get there. Whilst women may be more than happy to use all available resources to reach the destination, we will rigidly stick to our original “system” - even if we’re lost. Similarly we hate to ask for instructions. We have the underlying confidence that we can figure it out. There’s another reason - we’re fixers by nature. Blame it on the hormones I’d say; we’re hardwired to try and fix stuff - be it broken relationships or a broken toaster. And we love to do it without vocally asking for help. Even if we have to rely on the internet and google the crap out of it, we will do so,  to avoid asking for directions or instructions. For us, asking someone else, is almost akin to admitting defeat and seeking counsel. Yes, I know - we’re egotistic too. And yes, this behaviour of ours, probably drives you mad, but what can I say - it’s in the genes.

Opinion on dresses

577px-Be-Honest-when-She-Asks-if-an-Outfit-Makes-Her-Look-Fat-Step-1When you ask us if you look good, always expect the answer to be yes. If we are in a relationship with you, then consider it a given that you look good to us. Yes, we’re shallow when it comes to looks. If you’re asking us to choose between outfits, please give us only a couple of choices. Any more, and we start losing the will to live. While we’re on the topic, if we offer to help you while you’re getting ready, then it means you’re late. And during these times, please refrain from asking us to pick up an outfit for you. We will invariably pick the wrong attire and it will make us even more late.

We LOVE sports

watch-sports-at-homeIt’s just one of those things that’s again wired into us. Though the kind of sports we like might vary from person to person, for us men, watching a game is almost devotional in aspect. Yes, we know we can just get the scores off the internet, or get updates on our phone. But it would almost be sacrilegious if we did not watch the game live and in our own fashion of putting our feet up on the table, drinking a beer or coke and munching on a bowl of bad-ass crisps. And you know what, if you love us, take a chance and enjoy the game with us - we will love you even more for that. There’s no better way to bond, than your wife/partner and you, enjoying a sports game with genuine interest. Same thing goes for video games.

We are oblivious to detail

forgetful-man-main_mensfitness.comThe next time you ask us “Do you remember what I wore for our first date?” or “Do you remember when you bought those earrings for me?”, don’t be surprised if you hear a “Mmmm….” followed by a made up answer. Unfortunately for us, we seem incapable of remembering any kind of detail. Research shows that women are better at remembering because they place a higher priority on “remembering” than men do. So the next time, if there’s something that you really want us to remember, make sure we write it down or program it somewhere, like on a calendar or note. If not, I’m afraid, its quite likely we won’t remember it.

Couch date

couple-on-couch-back-heads-380pix1_fancylittlethingsYes, again, we’re a strange bunch. For us sitting with you in front of the tv, on the couch, with a nice glass of wine and some food is date night too. Sometimes we just need to be with you, without the added pressure of dressing up and going some place nice. So the next time, this happens, please don’t think "He'd rather stare at the TV than be with with me.” Think of it as "There's no place he'd rather be, than with me!"

Yes - we have emotions. No - we don’t express them

bth_man-crying-photobucketWe men have a tough time expressing our emotions. We find it incredibly difficult to process these “feelings". Blame it on the stereotyping - with things like boys don’t cry, and real men need to be strong, confident and stoic. Yes, we might be all those things, but the moment we show a bit of emotion, we’re labelled a wuss. So invariably we start to equate emotions with weakness, and we’re trained to bottle them up. Sometimes the best way to help us is to let us deal with our crap ourselves. If we need to open up, we would rather open up to you, than one of our guy friends. But don’t let our inability to express emotions be a deterrent to you to open up to us, when you’re down. On the other hand, we secretly like it when you cry and are an emotional wreck. It gives us a chance to lend you that shoulder to cry on and makes us feel, strangely enough, manly. Oh, and we do get really emotional about sports.

We are egoistic

man_iesmyogaLadies - If you’re in a relationship with a man who says he has no ego, then he’s lying. Our ego is like a balloon - it can either be very slowly inflated and delicately deflated or burst with the small prick of a needle. Inflict a wound on our ego, and it can be quite fatal for the relationship. But that’s not to say that we don’t take feedback positively. We do. But just make sure that you boost our self-esteem first, and then gently let us down.

Sickness turns us into babies

when-men-get-sick_dumpadayAccept it. When we succumb to man-flu, we are as needy as a newborn baby. We will demand your undivided attention and expect cuddles and comfort food every now and then. Also be prepared to bite your tongue as we occasionally mention how our mom used to take care of us when we were ill, and how she used to make a special bowl of our favourite soup and garnish it with some amazing stuff.

Gifts - Help us, please!

getty imagesWhen it comes to giving gifts, please realise and understand that we are about as clueless as a five year old boy dealing with complex Math sums. Most of us, experience a certain panic, closer towards those special dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, valentines day and others. The pressure of nailing the best gift is enough to drive us to tears. Trust us, we do put in a lot of thought into what we need to get you. But sometimes (actually more often than I’d care to point out), we make mistakes and buy you something that you really do not need.

I remember the time I bought my wife one of the latest tablets for our anniversary. Though not a technophobe by a mile, I still remember the look of despair on her face, when she unwrapped the gift. My reason for buying it- she was always on my iPad; so I thought it’ll help her ( and me ) if she had one of her own; after all I knew she liked it. Her take on it was  - i love using “our iPad”. Since we already have one in the house, you should have maybe spent the money on getting me something else like a new handbag, or that platinum earring I showed you 2 months ago when we passed the jewellers.

So ladies, unless you are ready to drop a hint or just come out and tell us what you’d like, there is a really high chance that you might end up with something that you really did not want in the first place.

Your man is the funniest guy you know. Period

100301_my_one_joke_cartoon_465_thenewyourkerI really can’t stress that enough. Nothing gives a man more pleasure (well, some things do, but let’s keep in a bit more family oriented shall we?) than his woman laughing at one of his jokes and sometimes even exclaiming how funny he is. Yes, I know - we’re quite peculiar. But never ever laugh harder at another man’s joke….well, unless we’re at a comedy club. It makes us feel really insecure. And trust me, you do not want an insecure partner.

Multi-tasking is beyond us - well most of us anyway

simone-150x150Most of us can do one thing properly - the activity that we’re involved in at any given time. Some of us can possibly do one additional activity too, but they too are a rare species. We give that one thing we’re involved in, our complete and un-divided attention. So when you ask us to fold those freshly laundered clothes whilst watching the game on TV, you can be rest assured that the folding job is going to be shabby at best. Yes, we know - you super women can cook, help kids with their home work, lay the table and read a book simultaneously, while we find it difficult to answer a simple question with the TV on. Strangely enough though, we can simultaneously press all the buttons on our video game console at once. Go Figure.

We love you to bits, but yes, we will steal the odd glance at the hot girl

man-staring-at-other-womenYes, it’s true. And if you haven’t caught your man stealing the odd glance at a pretty girl, then either you’re not looking properly or your man is a genius (in which case, ask him to email me - I really need to master that art). And it’s not because we want to cheat. Its just that we men are visually stimulated. Most of the times, we will pretend to not have noticed that girl, just to make sure you don’t feel insecure. See - we care. And please, us sneaking a glance, does not mean we are not interested in you. We very much are - it’s just a testosterone thing. Think of it as the same way you gawk at Hugh Jackman when he takes his shirt off and we’re ok with it.

We like shopping; Notice - like, not love

81725059Yes, we like shopping. Well, maybe not shopping, but walking around in a shopping mall with you, is something we can live with. But we will never “love” shopping the way women do. Again, I generalise. I personally know  women who hate shopping. Coming back to us, we will tag along with you and offer our opinion on whatever you ask us to offer an opinion on. But more than a couple of hours, and we will  lose it.  Oh while we’re on it, please don’t ever ask us to hold your handbag in a public place, unless we have to. It’s …well, let’s just say makes us feel a bit un-manly.

Praise us in the kitchen

article-1036921-001F0FC700000258-654_468x566If we attempt to prepare a meal, no matter how feeble the attempt, be it washing the spaghetti or precisely cutting those onions, please do give us the same degree of praise as you would shower on your toddler when he/she takes their first steps.

We need “Cave” time

man-cave-original_platosacademicBefore we get into this, I’d like to ask a couple of  questions to all the wonderful women reading this post. Don’t women ever need “me-time”? I mean, where you are left alone, without a care in the world, and not wondering about work or life, or anything else? How do you de-stress? Well, us men, we de-stress by being alone. We could read, watch a game or a movie, play some video games - i.e. doing something completely un-related to whatever caused us the stress in the first place. Doesn’t mean we’re loners; when we retreat into our cave or den, its sort of like we’re going on a mini-vacation. Let us be and we’ll be back with you in no time. Push us and it’ll end up in an argument.

Befriending strange men - takes time

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 4.11.55 pmWe take our time to be friendly with a complete stranger, especially so, if it’s a man. So when you invite over you new best friend and her husband/partner to visit us, do spare us both a thought, if we (i.e. the guys) don’t hit it off. We will (hopefully) eventually. But it takes time. We spend a lot of time sussing each other out, and as you can guess, we don’t usually make a lot small talk. With you maybe, but not with another guy. In case you’re still wondering, here’s a classic example. Remember the awkward Mike and Ross “hang-out date” from FRIENDS (Season9)? That’s true!

Refresh your memories with this clip: Clip

Starting an important conversation

women-talk-too-much_amarudontvLadies, remember this - try not to start an important conversation when we’re watching TV (especially sports), eating, reading or when we’ve just come home from work. We might pretend to listen, but in reality our minds are on things like Will my team win?, I’m really hungry!, this book is pretty damn good, How do i complete that project". As I mentioned earlier, we give our undivided attention to one thing at time. During moments like these, we do not ignore you because we know you’ll be hurt. If we respond in someway, you’ll figure out that we weren’t listening. So we just nod and let you talk. We might even be able to say the last word you spoke, but that doesn’t mean we were listening. Oh, and yes - Never speak to us when we’re on the other side of the toilet/bathroom. We hate being spoken to or making conversation whilst on the loo. It’s just not the right thing to do. Wow, that rhymes.

670px-Buy-Flowers-for-Women-Step-4Bullet1And finally,

With all of these (and more) quirkiness, sometimes we wonder why any woman would want to be with us, much less someone as amazing as you.

So, thank you !


Images courtesy : Google Image Search | DailyMail | The New Yorker | iesmyoga.com | platosacademic.com | Pinterest.com | amarudont.tv |

Note:

I've decided to add this note as an after thought. When I initially wrote the post, I was slightly worried about a backlash from the men. However I'm glad that hasn't quite materialised. But I've discovered something else. If you read all the comments below, you'll find something there - every woman who's in a relationship with a man, has actually stood up proudly and said, whilst I agree on most points, my man is so different because of points a,b,c (that's just random numbering by the way). And that makes me realise something. Women must love men, more than men love women.

Singletons - Meet your "invisible" partner

Before I get into this, I need to let you in on a little secret. Well, not exactly a secret, more like, there’s something you need to know about me. No, I’m not crazy…well, not yet anyway.  I’m an ardent fan of utilising technology in every day life, with a view to simplifying certain processes and speeding certain things up. But every now and then, I stumble across certain new apps, which to be honest, stump me. This is one such one.

Let me start with a bit of a preface. We all know that there are a lot of socio-cultural differences between the so-called Western world and their Asian counterparts. However there is one question that transcends boundaries, countries , religion, caste, creed and everything else. And that is, “Are you seeing anyone? / Are you still single?” Though previously unheard in Asia, particularly in India, these days it’s no longer considered taboo to have had a girlfriend / boyfriend (s) prior to getting married. And if you’re of marriageable age, then ideally you are expected to be in a serious relationship, if not married already.

Before we get into a heated debate, I am in no way saying that a marriage is the be all or end all of a relationship. Marriage is sometimes just a strengthening of the bond, sometimes its just some paperwork, other times it’s due to social compulsion. I still maintain my stand on the topic - Marriage, it’s not for every one. If you feel the need or want for it, then do it. If not, live together. Anyway, I digress.
Come to think of it, let’s maybe think of this as a story. We have a hero, say, Matt. Matt’s been single for a while. And he likes to mingle. Which is absolutely perfect. But at every  social gathering he goes to, all the “nosy Toms” want to know just one thing - “Why are you still single?”. Now, though it’s absolutely none of their business, Matt decides to take the polite approach and cooks up a story about his girlfriend, who he has been seeing for a while; about how it was unfortunate that she had to go overseas on a business trip; about how he misses her and he wishes she was there. But the problem is that the the nosy nosersons are quite “socially” active these days - which means unlike older times, they are more likely to spy on Matt’s social life through the already well-established “spy-networks” of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and the likes.
Would you like an "invisible" partner?
Would you like an "invisible" partner? - Image courtesy www.invisiblegirlfriend.com

Which means that Matt now needs to cover his tracks. So in true James Bond style, Matt decides to use technology to help him. Unfortunately Matt is neither an engineer nor is that tech-savvy. Step in the “Invisible Girlfriend” app. Touted to be man’s next best invention since sliced bread (by the makers of course), the app can provide a range of relationship "tokens" to help keep the conversation going, and help Matt escape those judgemental looks from friends and family. So yes, coming back to the relationship prompts - the app provides a range of options from SMSes and  “emergency interaction” to what is now considered the “true sign of a relationship” - a Facebook relationship status change :) All Matt needs to decide is what subscription he needs to go for.

There’s the :

a. Just Talking - SMSes, automated calls and some gifts for $9.99 per month

b. Getting Serious  - Just talking plus Facebook relationship changes and real voicemails and girls all for a paltry $29.99 per month

c. Almost Engaged - This offers all the advantages of Getting Serious plus “custom girlfriend characterisation” and live phone calls, all for just $49.99. Matt can even pick a "girlfriend" from the company’s “extensive library”

Now, is that WOW or what? (holding up a sarcasm board)

So that’s that then; for the millions of Matts out there in the world who want to enjoy their single life whilst “maintaining a potentially infallible story-line”,  well, they have the invisible girlfriend app, if they can afford it. Alternatively, they could just do what the rest of us normal people do and get in a real relationship or better yet, just ask them to mind their own business.

Frankly, I’m not quite sure what the makers of the app were thinking when they came up with this ridiculous notion. Maybe it was the result of one drunken night and lots of "creative" single men.

Here’s the link to the website, if you are keen to explore the options. Bear in mind that they’ve not gone live yet - wonder why :)