Tuesday, November 28

Love me, Love my Laryngitis

At first it was nothing, really nothing much
It was just a little sore, really just a touch.
Soon enough it began hurt for me to swallow
And sure enough I knew what was to follow
When I extended my mouth wide in the mirror I saw
That my throat was completely red, it was completely raw
After a few days of living with my throat like that
I could no longer keep my condition under my hat

My voice changed and became beautifully husky and deep
Such a rich baritone that would have made Sinatra weep
Now, I can just imagine what you’d be wont to say
What normal woman would want to sound that way?
But you would have understood, had you been there
Then you would have twigged why I would care
Because as soon as there was no one home anymore
Could I belt out ballads that were too deep for me before
Oh, how I loved that stage, but it didn’t last all that long
I wasn’t meant to retain that lovely timbre, I was wrong

Because before I knew it, the next thing I knew, lo and behold
My voice went from smooth butter to butter covered in mold
I sounded like I smoked sixty packs of cigarettes a day
And forty pipes, fifty cigars and hookahs from Bombay
That scratchy sound swiftly turned into a croak
Bringing to mind a rusty door hinge when I spoke
But the worst part was, I feel I really must assert
There was no more singing and my throat really hurt!

(How could I know there would be more thrill to this ride?
Ah, my friends I tell you the rest, then you can decide.)

Soon I had absolutely no voice, yes no voice at all
And the kids and the husband had become enthralled
No nagging, no yelling, not even one single squeak
they thought ‘life’s good when Mum can’t speak’
But then when things unexpectedly took a turn for the worse
What they thought was a blessing just have been a curse!

Because I had no voice, I could not answer the phone
And all I could do was shrug when my kids would moan
To help them with homework I now had to take a backseat
While Husband read them bedtime stories, I put up my feet
I could now discipline with just one sharp look in my eye
(It works twice as well as shrieking, I can now testify!)
I was more relaxed than I had been in years, almost nonchalant
I just pointed at something, and everyone had to guess what I want!

Alas, I knew it couldn’t go on and I knew the game was up
When the teas started pouring in, cup after cup after cup
And Husband booked a doctors appointment for the next day
Now I’m just looking for any excuse for this trip to delay
You see, I know antibiotics would work and heal me I bet
I would like my voice back sometime, but not quite just yet.

Wednesday, November 22


Growing up in the US, I always loved Thanksgiving.

I loved the parade in Manhattan, and the whole abundant autumnal harvest theme. I loved that there was no school and that my Dad would bring a huge turkey (dead, thank G-d) home from work. I still think that it was so nice for the fortune 500 company that my dad worked for to make sure that its kosher employees got kosher chickens even thought they cost thirty times as much.

I loved the entire build up to Thanksgiving, and that is one of the things I miss about being away from the USA.
Therefore, because I am Chutz LeAretz, I keep TWO days of Thanksgiving.
We have turkey shnitzels on Thursday night and then I have all my in-laws over on Friday night for a big festive feast on Isru Chag.
I serve a huge stuffed Turkey (which for some odd reason I feel compelled to name every year. Bezras Hashem, this year we will be serving Bertha) and sweet potatoes, and other harvest type foods. I always make two desserts, one being pumpkin pie and the other something chocolaty because no one besides me eats the pumpkin pie. But one must eat the pumpkin pie, it’s like eating tzimus on Rosh Hashana:
it is tradition. I can be as stuffed as Bertha, and yet I will make sure to shovel some pumpkin pie into my mouth. (Hey, is that why they call it pie-hole?)

Here’s a rendition of Thanksgiving past:
Must…..eat…. pumpkin….pie….

It’s not only the food that attracts me to this holiday.
I just love the idea that an entire country pauses to show Hakaras Hatov to a higher power.
I firmly believe that it is the concept of Hakaras Hatov that makes us better Ovdei Hashem and makes us into better people.

Besides that, I can’t really deal with atheists.
I can’t manipulate them at all.
When you can’t ‘put the fear of G-d’ in someone they will not respond well to guilt.
Why should they? All they have to look forward to is worms.

Every year at some point during the Friday night Thanksgiving meal I try to get my assorted in-laws to hold hands and say what they are thankful for.
Every year I get the same response.
Or should I say non response.
Or should I say ignored completely.
Never mind, it just means my food’s good.

So, in honour of this auspicious holiday (but it’s not really a holy-day is it?) I have decided to recount to you, my friends, my readers, my captive audience (I’ll take the handcuffs off when you finish) exactly, what I, Kasamba, am thankful for.

10 Obvious Things I am grateful for:
1- I am grateful for my husband and kids
2- I am grateful for my parents and in-laws
3- I am grateful for my wonderful supportive friends, family and neighbours
4- I am grateful for good health (for all above)
5- I am grateful for Shalom Bayis
6- I am grateful for my spirituality
7- I am grateful to have Parnassah
8- I am grateful for my talent
9- I am grateful for the ability to help others
10- I am grateful Israel is in our hands

10 Not So Obvious Things I am Grateful For:
1- I am grateful that I don’t live in _________ (fill in blank for any eastern European country, North African country, and any Moslem ruled country)
2- I am grateful that fundraising dinners end.
3- I am grateful for the washing instruction tags on my clothes.
4- I am grateful for indoor plumbing.
5- I am really grateful for Sushi
6- I am grateful for doorknobs
7- I am grateful for my Bentching pen
8- I am grateful for Pepto Bismol
9- I am grateful that the ozone has not fallen down on me
10- I am grateful that there are rarely snow off-school days in England

Well, there are so many more things I could list, like the fact that Bertha is giving up her life for our enjoyment. But because I am a believer, I really do think that Bertha's Turkey soul will rise higher because she was part of our Shabbos/Thanksgiving meal. And if she was a gilgul, then I’m sure she would have had her Tikun. (That’s why I always make sure to offer mechilah to any food that was once alive and kicking)

But there is sooooo much to be appreciative to Hakodosh Boruchu so this is me reflecting and saying Thank You to Him and to YOU as well, my lovely, fabiola, marvelosa readers.

Okay, you can go now.

Sunday, November 19

Let's Play a Game!

Hey boys and girls, want to play a game??
It’s called the Compare Game!

The rules are simple: we will take the nicest mall in the NY-NJ state area and the nicest mall in ohhhh, say London and compare them.
Sounds fun, right?

Let’s get started then!!!

Because London is about 50 years behind the US when it comes to retailing, we won’t choose the lovely Short Hills mall to go up against London’s finest, which is Brent Cross. Instead we will go a few notches down (for fairness sake) and compare Brent Cross to the Garden State Plaza mall.

Point One: FROM FAR

From far, the Garden State Plaza, looks like an oasis, a Valhalla of pretty windows and enticing mannequins, beckoning one inside.

From far, Brent Cross looks like a manufacturing plant for something mundane, like … rivets.

Point Two: INSIDE

Once you go into the Garden State Plaza, the streams of sunlight and assorted potted plants make you feel like you are frolicking in a rainforest. The air is perfumed and you feel invigorated, ready to shop.

As soon as you go inside Brent Cross, you start to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. The lack of natural light gives you the impression of being in Gotham City, a cave or a crate in your basement. You are immediately bombarded with the sensation of an overflow of CO2 and lack of O2. I have always suspected Brent Cross of hiring people to suck out the air with straws, because I can’t imagine how else you could recreate the feeling of a pressurised cabin in such a large space. You feel depleted and decrepit, and hope you can leave soon.

Point Three: STAFF

In the Garden State Plaza, all sales assistants look like Malibu Barbie, healthy, with the sparkling white teeth of a Colgate advertisement and hair like the Breck girls of yore. They are as enthusiastic as cheerleaders and they don’t walk, they bounce. They fuss over you and tell you that they love what you are wearing, you have such pretty eyes, and they ask you where you got your shoes.

In Brent Cross, the staff resemble the sketchings of the British during the Great Plague. They look severely anaemic and have teeth that look like they’ve been braided. They will tell you that you have to wait to be served, even it the person they’re busy with has been trying on blushers for the past 40 minutes. They are lethargic and depressed and they don’t even care if you buy anything or not, because the world is ending anyway.


Most of the people in the Garden State Plaza are young mothers and Ladies Who Lunch. They all look great from their expertly done hair til their manicured fingernails. They look like they are clearly enjoying themselves and there are barely any male shoppers to be seen.

The irony of Brent Cross, is that it caters for people who do not look like they can afford tissues, let alone luxury items. They look downtrodden and there are loads of men milling about. These men are either on the dole, shopping on the taxpayer’s expense or construction workers who refuse to finish their already started projects, leaving people with no roof until they feel like finishing. Later, they will go down to the pub and complain about how crowded Brent Cross is.

Point Five: SHOPPING:

In the Garden State Plaza, everything is lit with an almost serene, spiritual white light. Everything screams, “Buy me!” and when you do purchase these items, you feel warm and cosseted, almost cherished, as you did in the womb. You end up buying things that you will never use, but every time you spy your onion flower maker or your watermelon shaped handbag or your skirt with Marilyn Monroe’s lips all over it, you feel great all over again.

In Brent Cross, everything feels drab and dreary, which in turn makes you tired and weary. This is so much so, that even if you are standing in front of the object you came to Brent Cross to buy, you WILL NOT purchase it. What’s the use? The world’s gonna end anyway.


After you come home from the Garden State Plaza, laden with packages, you don’t even notice the welts from where the bags cut into your wrists because you are still on a retail high!!! As you excitedly unpack your new goods, you relive your time in paradise and you feel youthful and great.
Verdict: Like spending a day in a spa.

After you come home from Brent Cross, you feel severely dehydrated and jet lagged and you know that it will take you 48 hours to recover. Your skin has aged 5 years, but you don’t worry because you know it’s only temporary. You feel sick and take to your bed, knowing that you didn’t even get what you supposed to, meaning that another trip is necessary.
Verdict: Like sticking your head in an oven.

So, how do they rate up?
Hmmm, let’s see…
Garden State Plaza: 6/6
Brent Cross: 0/6

Well, that was fun wasn’t it???
Maybe next time, we’ll compare governments!

Until next time….
Happy Chanukah shopping wherever you are!

This is Kasamba signing off!
Cue theme tune; la, la, la, la, deed a, dum de, la, la la, laaa

Tuesday, November 14


I always looked foward to covering my hair. For me it was a right of passage that meant I was in the big leagues.
It meant I was married.
Sadie the Married Lady.

When I first got hitched, I was so excited that I didn't have to pachka with my hair every morning and I could just dump on my purchased hair.

Yeah, that feeling lasted for about a month until I discovered that although sheitels look great when they are just done; that great look only lasts until you get in your car. Unless of course you spray them into submission, which will only them look more like a helmet from World War 2 or something you purchased in a Disney shop.

How your hair looks under a sheitel is a fundamental component to looking normal:
(re; like a person wearing hair instead of something that died.
In a cage.
In a zoo.)

-If your own hair is too thick and curly your sheitels will sort of hover above your head resembling the Jackson five before their haircuts.

-If your hair is too long and you put it up in a ponytail, you will end up with a bump at the back of your head making you look like an alien from the planet Zork.

But if you were blessed with rubbishy thin hair, you will look amazing in a sheitel.

I think that’s just the universe evening the score for all the women who cried that their hair was too thin while the rest of us with our thick medusa tresses flicked it in their faces. It is the ultimate cosmic joke.
Yeah, you can guess what hair I have.
Oh lucky me. Not.

I always say that good sheitels are Hidur Mitzvah, similar to a beautiful esrog except of course, you don’t have to pay to have an esrog washed and set and jam made out of hair is just gross.

I adore Chani, my Sheitel Macher.
I have the best time choosing my wigs because she lets me try on everything.
Which I do.
She actually has a website: www.sheitel.com

I love it that us Sheitel wearers can peg each other after just one glance.
It’s almost as if we have a secret club.

A few years after I was married I went to a women’s symposium. Anyone could ask any question on any subject to the panel. One woman stood up and asked, “Aren’t the sheitels nowadays too glamorous? Don’t they go against what sheitels stand for?” The panel proceeded to call glamorous sheitels untznuis for attracting attention. Hearing this, I couldn’t stay quiet anymore (surprised?) so I stood up and said,

With all due respect to the esteemed panel (I had to shmear them a little bit.), I feel that since it may have been some time (we’re talking the ice age) since the panel has had to put a sheitel on for the first time, they might have forgotten what it feels like for a newlywed to put one on initially. Maybe they have forgotten the wish to use anything available (forks, chopsticks, twigs) to alleviate the itching.” I went on to say, “I think before you judge people who wear fancy wigs, think of this: when the wind is blowing through your natural hair, you look gorgeous and feel great. When the wind blows through your sheitel, you hold on for dear life.

It's not always easy to do this mitzvah, therefore there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best while you do it.”
By then the room descended into utter chaos, all semblance of civility gone with the wind of my comments.

Every Sheitel wearer has good Sheitel days. Mine came when a Lubavitch woman carrying candlesticks approached me in the mall and asked me if I was Jewish. I beamed as I pointed to my head and shrieked, “Sheitel!” to which she replied, “Wow, that’s a good one”. I was on a high for months.

I crack up when people ask me “Is that your hair?”
I say, “Of course it is, I paid for it!”

And on the plus side;
I never have to worry how my hair’s going to look the next day,
I just look across the room and there it is!

Friday, November 10

Oy Vy Vayera

Warning: Politically Incorrect Post.

I usually don’t cover the Sedra, nor do I dip my cute little toesies into racially biased waters, but today, I shall.

For me, Parshas Vayera answers many questions, none of which are about missing socks and the dryer.
That’s another post entirerly.

I have always felt that the stories related in the Torah are not mere folklore like Aesop’s Fables, but rather a factual guide to show us our potential as Jews; our strengths and gifts as well as our weaknesses. In short, I believe that they were real people illustrated by the Torah to show us what is in our DNA; so we can learn from our designer genes.
They serve as a reflection of what was in order to shape us for what will be.

Well that’s a load of malarkey, you might be saying.
Oh, what?
I’m not allowed to have a deep thought once in a while?
Oh, get over it.

Anyhoo, back to my barkings.
Now, where was I?
Oh, yeah. Vayera.

Here we have the saga of two mothers, both vying for the position of mother to the nation of Israel, both representing diametrically opposed characteristics of motherhood.

On one side, you have Sara;
longstanding wife of Avraham.
Knowing she was barren, she was altruistic enough to voluntarily offer to raise another woman’s child as her own in order to fulfil her husband’s destiny. She knew she was destined to be mother of Israel, and didn’t mind if the child wasn’t genetically hers. She was a prophetess, who had such clear vision that even Hashem had to tell Avraham to listen to her.

On the other corner, sits Hagar;
Pharaoh’s daughter and Sara’s maidservant. Upon her subsequent marriage to Avraham and immediate pregnancy, she demeaned Sara and became very condescending towards her, in her mistaken and arrogant belief that she was greater than Sara because of her ability to conceive Avraham’s child.

Sara, realising that Yishamael, the offspring of Hagar was a bad influence on her son Yitzchak, sent Hagar away.

We can learn a lot of the power of this gift of clarity that Sara had. It is well known that Sara had her name changed from Sarai to Sara. And many schoolchildren learn that the yud that was removed from Sara’s name went before the Almighty and complained about its expulsion from a righteous woman’s name. Hashem then responded to him that he would have the Zchuss to be the first letter in a Tzaddiks name, to change Hosheya to Yehoshua.

Dayan Simons tells us that the time that Moshe bestowed the yud to Yehoshua’s name is also significant. Moshe gave it to him right before Yehoshua was set to go with the other spies to scout out the Land of Israel. This shows us that even the yud of Sara’s name contained clarity and lucidity that Yehoshua needed in order to resist peer pressure and ascertain the truth about the Holy Land.

This gift of clarity is something Sara infused in each and every mother among us.
This gift makes us Jewish mothers who know just what is best for their children.

Okay, you waited long enough, here’s the controversial bit:
(Pause for effect)

Hagar, on the other hand is another kettle of fish and a stinky one at that.
She and her son Yishmael get chucked out of Avraham’s house, with enough food and drink for the journey.
On the way, Yishmael gets sick and there is only enough water left for one person.
What should she do?
What did she do?
Well, she takes her sick child, and like a sem girl’s used wad of chewing gum, dumps him under a tree and runs from him like a tourist at Pamplona. She thinks he might die so she takes the last bit of water with her. After all, it would shame to waste good water if he’s gonna die, isn’t it?
After all, dead people don’t drink do they?

That is a ‘mother’?

So, here’s my point:
In the same way that the Jewish mother knows what is best for her children and nurtures them until the soul is forced from her body, is the same way there is something intrincally wrong with the maternal instinct of the Arab woman.

They will nurture their offspring, love them, and look after them, to a point.
Then they will strap explosives on them and point them in our direction.

And this my dears, is my point.

Tuesday, November 7

Don’t Move to Boca!

The passage of time is strange.
The beautiful people that you once looked up to as the pinnacle for all things youthful and virile are still beautiful but a little… off kilter.
Gravity has taken its toll as everything has shifted slightly south.
The little kids I once babysat now have kids of their own and I could swear that Chassanim and Kallahs are Bar Mitzvah boys marrying Sweet 16 girls.

Now there is no denying that my parents are getting old, they have just purchased an apartment in Boca Raton.

To most the housing unit for the aged is called ‘Century Village’, probably because most people who inhabit it recall the American Civil War -first hand. I, on the other hand call it ‘Cemetery Village’ sort of like
G-d’s waiting room or
‘Hotel California’- once you check in you can never check out.

My Dad loves the whole, ‘I’m retired so I can do and say whatever I want’ thing. This is so much so, that he actually enjoys the daily scrimmage for seats at the ‘All You Can Eat Breakfast’ for $2.50 available in the village.
According to legend, these places employ bouncers to keep the old age pensioners from coming to blows with each other over who was first in line.

I say good for them because it gives their lives PURPOSE.
Everyone should have a PURPOSE.


Even with her old country accent, my mothers always been young at heart and has never come to terms with aging. She would go nuts in Boca where the most popular sports are: comparing ailments, comparing medications and comparing doctors.

My Dad on the other hand, loves all of that.
He’s waited his whole life and looked forward to ….. getting old.
Well, I guess it does beat the alternative.

My Dad showed me the photo of his new apartment and there was a person lying on the sofa. I screamed in horror, “Dad! Couldn’t they have removed the body BEFORE you bought the apartment?” My Dad rolled his eyes and told me that it was just the real estate agent who happens to be my cousin, which explains his level of comfort in my parent’s new abode. However, it also explains the lethargy that sets in when people enter Boca.

At one point my Dad talked about selling his home, (my birthplace!) in Monsey and moving to Boca permanently.

Even though I live in London, I still need to know that my home still exists! I told my Dad that he might as well stick a bottle of liquor in my hand (preferably egg, or coffee’s good too- yum!), drop me off at the Bowery and call me homeless.

My parents are vibrant, youthful people. I can’t let them willingly become part of the old age brigade!!!!

I don’t mind if they spend winters in Boca Raton, I just feel that they just need to be around young people the rest of the time.

So please join me in petitioning my father and write to:


I thank you for your support in these trying times.

Friday, November 3

The Traffic War-Dons

It is said that the eyes are the mirror of the soul, and as I stared into the cold dark eyes of the Traffic Warden, all I saw was: Joy, glee, gladness.

Jubilation that he had nabbed another punter, put another notch on his uniform belt, and snared another unsuspecting bug into his web of bureaucratic legal penalties.

Do I blame him?
Ever since time immemorial, the British Traffic Wardens have been vilified for doing their job with enthusiasm.
Do I malign and disparage them?
No, I do not.

For I, Kasamba, know something that most people do not.
Lucky for you I will share the inside story with you.
Yes, once again, I Kasamba, am the bearer of the TRUTH.

You see my cyber-bloggy buddies, in the UK the traffic wardens are not trained to be sadistic… they are born that way.
Yes, my friends, it is shocking but true.

Back in the glory days, when Britain ruled the world and the sun shone from every British backside, the British had conquered numerous lands and isles. However, unbeknownst to most, one of those islands still belongs to Britain.

This island located in the Caribbean is called Antagonigua and it is there that you will find the colony of the Traffic Wardens.

There, children are raised to go a step beyond apathy. There they learn shaudenfreude; which is the glee found in someone else’s misery, the pleasure found in another’s misfortune, and then some. They are taught that their personal reward is directly parallel to someone else’s distress.

Therefore, where our children are innocent, giving, loving children; their children are trained to wipe out any remnant of that nature in order for them to become Traffic Wardens.

Once they are shipped to England, the poor Traffic Wardens start doing their job.
But what of their social life?
Is there a place in society for people for whom someone’s anguish means job satisfaction?
Obviously not.

After all, who could bring a Traffic Warden home to mother?

Therefore, the British Government has set up secret social mixers for the aforementioned Traffic Wardens to allow them to socialise and mix with people who are as disturbed as they are. The only other sect of society they could possibly mix with are Wheel Clampers, but that is another post entirely.

One thing I feel I must warn you, my darlings, my most dearest dumplings:
Be very careful and wary NOT to smile, make eye contact or be pleasant to any Traffic Wardens, EVER……
Because it just might short circuit their wiring.

My blog is worth $12,419.88.
How much is your blog worth?

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