Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Open Letter To The Times of India

Dear Editor in Chief, Ms. Meenal Baghal and Ms. Sudipta Basu,

I am writing this letter to you as an open letter on my website, as I have no way of getting the desired response from your team.

As you can imagine I am extremely irritated and frustrated at the lack of response or help I have received from your team for a matter that any leading newspaper should take seriously.

I was informed by a reader that your supplement the Pune Mirror illegally stole one of my photographs from my blog and published it in their section YOU on May 8th. Not only did they have the audacity to crop the picture so that my watermark and copyright statement, which is printed on each one of my pictures, is obscured, they also simply copied and pasted my text from the article. A true case of copyright violation.

Beetroot (03x) by MeetaK

Original Photo "Crimson Beetroot" from this post dated March 13, 2008

So, I ask you, is this how you do daily business over at the Times of India? One would expect a lot more from one of India's leading daily newspapers. How is it possible for you to be taken seriously internationally? I cannot ever imagine The New York Times or The Washington Post ever stooping to such petty theft. They would have had the dignity to actually ask – I might have just said yes if you had taken the time.

But you choose to steal, not only my pictures but also several other bloggers' pictures. However, what you probably did not realize is that we as Food Bloggers are a close knit community and we talk. We are aware that the Mumbai Mirror, also one of your supplements, simply lifted her pictures too.

The worse part of the story is that you do not even respond to our mails. We have written to Ms. Meenal Baghal and Sudipta Basu on several occasions, with no serious actions taken. One just tried to push the blame on the other. How shameful to see how you place customer care!

I have been trying for over 2 months to deal with this situation privately without making this issue public. However, I kept hitting against hard walls. I hope this letter will make you take notice, maybe even make your Board of Directors also take notice and if nothing else at least others will be informed of how you choose to do business.

For me after this experience your newspaper belongs in the trash for lack of creativity, lack of dignity, lack of honesty, and lack of true journalism.

Meeta Khurana


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

75 comments :

  1. This is awful!! You are definitely doing the right thing by making the public aware of their actions, in particular fellow bloggers who enjoy posting pictures on their site. This is a violation of privacy and I hope those people gets punished for their lack of honesty and professionalism. Keep us posted on this situation and best of luck!!

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  2. Good job Meeta.
    I often wonder how blogging is going to change the world. I really believe this is one way. Some don't understand the power of word of mouth.

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  3. The Times of India is really the Slimes of India or the Trash of India. I am not surprised at all Meeta. They are a trashy company to start with and their newspapers/supplements are all trash. So, a company and its products are only as good as its people... it comes as no surprise that no one at the TOI has responded for 2 months. I tried writing to them last year when they published some wrong stuff about the bruglary at our place, but no response yet.

    I feel very sorry that this happened to you. Their lack of scruples helps them be the no. 1 paper in India! C'est la vie!

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  4. I can understand your anger and frustration! It is really horrible to see that your material has been stolen... Such a behaviour should be punished as it is not acceptable, especially from such a newspaper! Not very professional!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. How awful of them to do this and then ignore you and refuse to make it right. I applaud your willingness to make it public.

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  6. Meeta, this sucks but this problem is not isolated to India. I have a friend in Greece who's writings and work were plagiarized and there's been little serious response to her grievances.

    Best of luck.

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  7. this is sad.....and to make matters worse, they hide with silence.....i feel very sorry that this has happened meeta....

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  8. I am so sorry this happened to you but I applaud how you have handled it. Is there anything any of us can do to help?

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  9. Hi Meeta, I am so glad you did this. ToI is really trash. Twice I havetried to leave comments on articles which were politically incorrect -and guess what - they were not published because of theri critical nature. Shame on them.
    Shy

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  10. That is really bad! Now I see TOI in a very different light. Good that you put this up here. That is quite shameless of them for sure.

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  11. Come on, it's only a photograph. You should be happy that TOI saw it fit to steal :)

    Seriously, there is utter lack of ethics in Indian business establishments. It is very unfortunate that even venerable institutions like newspapers show a complete lack of responsibility. I think what you see is a direct result of the Law of Averages. Journalism is no stranger to such incidents (happens all the time all over) but the lack of someone feeling responsible and taking corrective actions is truly deplorable.

    Maybe we should have a community blog where people can report such incidents. If there enough eyeballs on such a blog, it might have some effect.

    Happy to see people take a stand on these things!

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  12. Oh my goodness gracious, how sickening!! I cannot believe that they had the audacity to take one of your photographs!!! Meeta, your open letter is perfect, and I am praying that you get a response (and major apology!!) from them.

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  13. Leaves you feeling cheated & with a paper that has a HUGE readership! Am amazed at their audacity Meeta & am sorry it happened to you.The power of blogging & the tight knit community it is shall eventually prevail over trash like this!
    Take care girl,Deeba

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  14. How annoying!

    I hope someone over there wakes up and takes notice.

    Highly unprofessional of them.

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  15. Meeta, that is awful! This is the first time I hear of a major publication doing something as outrageous as this! I hope their board takes action and tries to make things right. Best of luck!

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  16. Meeta, I have been spending time on your blog thanks to the Tried and Tasted event. Your photos are lovely as are the recipes. So you can imagine my disappointment to hear that the Times of India plagerized your material. I would be outraged if it happened to me and I hope that they respond to your letter, because frankly it is ridiculous that they would steal your picture and text when they could have asked you for permission, offered to buy it, or even highlighted your work in their newspaper!

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  17. this is horrible. I am happy you went public with this, shame on the paper. I hope they read it! I like Trash of India better.

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  18. It's a shame that people have absolutely no integrity anymore...

    You were absolutely correct in going public with this crime. Keep us posted and best of luck to you!

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  19. What a shame! I cannot believe TOI has stooped to such levels. I think all food bloggers should collectively protest against this blatant plagiarism.

    Meeta, let me know if I can help. I am not a food blogger, but if you guys are planning to send in a petition or something, let me know. I shall be glad to help in any way I can.

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  20. This article is unbeliveable...really felt bad. gr8 job

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  21. Hang in there! TOI is trash and everyone knows that.

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  22. Shameful lack of response from The Times of India, and extremely unprofessional behavior on their part. I'm always amazed at the reach of the blogging community, and I hope that your letter will find its way to the paper's readers. Awful.

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  23. Its Awful Meeta, glad that you have finally made it public, such big names and stealing pictures , huh... as for Nupur's picture, I have come across atleast 2 websites with her pictures.... apart from Mumbai mirror.Keep us posted and best of luck, hope they apologize for this act

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  24. How disgraceful on their part.
    Good on you for sticking up for yourself, food blogging is a tight knit community and something should be done to people who steal images like that.

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  25. stealing content is standard practice there. believe me, i know. i'm sorry this is happening to you.

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  26. totally with you on this Meeta. Lets hope they are difnified enough to reply atleast now

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  27. Good for you for having the courage to confront them for this shameful practice! I am cheering you on over here in Utah!

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  28. Dear Meeta, I understand the frustration that you go through. It is very unethnical of them to do a thing like that, violation of copyright. It is daylight robbery and this type of people should be eliminated from the earth.

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  29. Oh sweetie...

    I think the only recourse you actually have is legal...but then you would be dependent upon the Indian legal system to sort this out. There may be a press council to grieve to, but you may have to wave your right to sue if you go through that process.

    Unforuntately, IP is not totally understood, nor is it respected. Normally I see journalist-written pieces scalped an posted on blogs (also illegal), but I'm not surprised at this...

    I've been there, as some of my posts and photos for use in marketing materials.



    j

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  30. Meeta, Good you decided to bring it out like this! Plagiarism has become so rampant in every sphere, and it is horrible when journalism is a part of it! After all it is supposed to be one of the pillars on which we can depend for truth! Great work on your part to come out like this!

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  31. That is disgusting! Good for you for taking a stand.

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  32. This is so unethical, and to think that it's a commercial publication doing this - who, above anyone, ought to know better :P Hope u get some form of apology or acknowledgment from them soon.

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  33. well done meeta... we r with u darling.
    bohoo to TOI...

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  34. Ugh, that is really aggravating and I'm very sorry to hear it. I get irked enough when I see content lifted from my blog, but you wouldn't expect it from a "big" institution like a real, physical newspaper. I wish I had any notion as to how to proceed with this one--content theft across international lines muddies an already confusing field. :-/ At least when its within the US, I know how to get it fixed. If you have any breakthroughs on this, keep us updated!

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  35. You have a wonderful blog. But believe me dealing with TOI is not going to be extremely irksome. Its known for its unscrupulous and ruthless nature. And everybody, esp., the high ups there, are too full of themselves.
    Good luck with this, hope you get some response.

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  36. When people say it is "illegal" to do this, I think everyone should understand that, in the United States, it is not CRIMINALLY actionable. You have a private right of action, which means you have a right to sue. So, in other words, if someone's intellectual property is stolen, they have a right to go after the thief, but they have to pay for the litigation. That is why most small fry, like we bloggers, do NOT sue - too expensive.

    Meeta, you may find these to be of interest:
    http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/index.php?s=plagiarism&submit=Search

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  37. This is indeed a very sad and shameful incident!
    I do hope someone out there at TOI takes some notice, and sends you, at least an apology!!

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  38. Hi Meeta,

    I think you should take follow up with this till they acknowledge you. I will try my level best and find you contacts in media whom you can contact about your story.
    I never ceased to be amazed by the rapidly declining state of the media industry.
    I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

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  39. Yes Meeta, I have seen this happening to Indira (Mahanandi) 's food pics getting stolen by the leading tamil fornightly "Snehidhi" and they do it shamelessly. I wrote to them, called them but no response. Many magazines steal pics from blogs and they take it for granted as they "take data from Internet". I am with you and let me know if I could do any help from being in India!

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  40. I support you Meeta on this quest. It is so painful to realize how big institutions and company would do an awful thing like that. Sometimes I really wonder what had happened to Journalism's Code of Ethics. It is so simple to write you a letter and ask for your permission..the hell with them ..you are a talented photographer Meeta, that one they can never steal from you :-) cheer up sweetie!!

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  41. Why am I not surprised?! This is not an isolated incident, they do it all the time! If you have ever read any of their publications (though I wonder why people do?!)- their magazines/ newspapers - most of the articles are unattributed - not even "by a staff reporter" kind of thing. They are all lifted, as the situations are clearly not Indian. Not just that, they are so lazy that one day an article appears on page 2, and a week later the same thing is reprinted on, say, page 7 (that was the last straw - I changed my loyalties about 10 years ago and glad I did)! That is the kind of readership they are catering to.
    And that thing about being the 'largest' - well, the numbers are inflated by distributing free copies at airports, in trains, and paying off schools to impose student subscriptions! Who, in their right mind would want to read a paper that has Page Three on all pages?! And if it is not (Page Three-kind information), it is either banal or stolen material!

    I don't think they are going to address this issue - it will mean having to revamp their entire publication manual! ...they are relying on it being a big world and that no one is really 'reading' the material they print. The only right response is to publicise this more and boycott all TOI publications (and there are many and your material may have appeared in all of them!)

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  42. They should know better, Meeta - you did the right thing by telling!

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  43. This is not the way to handle things. They certainly do need to learn. Keep this post updated with their responses if any to this and any other such behaviour displayed by them.

    I certainly promise to help you spread the word.

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  44. Such disappointing behavior from the Times of India. For shame :-(

    You've handled this SO WELL. With grace and courgage. Good work! Kudos to you!

    Smita

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  45. Oh, goodness! How absolutely horrible!! You are handling this very gracefully. Hope it all gets resolved soon.

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  46. Dear Meeta.....I am so glad u did this....I hope TOI will atleast write back to you with an apology!

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  47. Hi Meeta

    Things like this have happened to several bloggers here in Hungary too. You need to know that their act is a violation of copyright laws, and there is no way they could win a case if you initiated a lawsuit against them. In most of the cases a letter written by a lawyer helps, it depends on how far you are willing to take this matter. I think it is worth a try especially if nice words have not worked so far.. a legal threat might.

    Good luck with it, and keep us posted how things developed.

    Zozó

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  48. What goes around comes around...

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  49. Well said!!!!!! Hope they respond to that!

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  50. Hey meeta,
    i m so sorry that happnd to u,and i feel u r truly justified to come up in open against that
    U know wht ...this is the paper that actually comes to our home ,and i feel so bad abt all this incidence
    I guess if all of us (food bloggers)write TOI against this issue,may be we cud shake them off their deep slumber
    I will do that on my part surely.....
    hope things get sorted out

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  51. Hey meeta.. have been a lurker all this while and was a journalist till recently. Am very sorry to hear about this and I am going to cross post this instance on my blog..though am not sure what good it will do. All papers here download pictures off the internet without a thought to copyright and plagiarism is rampant. I do hope you get a response but TOI is notorious about issuing apologies and/or corrections.

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  52. I am a fellow blooger from a different site and I was wondering if it was okay to post this site as a link to visit on my site?
    My website is www.my.opera.com/mandarinlounge
    thanks! Amanda

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  53. Meeta, We are all with you dear. Plagairism and thievery of our hard work shoud be stopped somehow. Something should be worked out, somehow, to protect the food bloggers content. Our hard work is not published to be stolen away so easily by other blogs and sites, magazines, newspapers and what not. I feel frustrated and I am so shocked at all this. Lately its been happening too much!

    www.zaiqa.net

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  54. Meeta,

    Way to go on pointing this out. Unfortunately too many "real" new agencies think blogging and stealing blogging content is acceptable. It happens here in the US too. A rather well known midwestern daily recently had to issue an apology for pilfering a full 1/3 of its content for a Sunday insert from blogs and then not attributing.

    Good luck on your quest for the TOI to do the right thing.

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  55. Thats really awful meeta...you have all our support!

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  56. Hi everyone! Your response on this issue is incredible and so is your support I thank you all for this! It's interesting to read and learn more about the TOI and the opinion people have of it.

    I am going to follow with another action regarding the issue. I have also received a few interesting mails from people who might be able to help. I'll keep you all updated.

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  57. From Brazil, just to say that I stand by you.
    strong hug,
    Heloisa

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  58. Wow. Please do keep us updated. How did you discover this in the first place? How scary! Sorry about this! I am afraid to even look . . .

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  59. Thats horrid, Meeta. I'm surprised they have just ignored you. I know a few people in TOI - will try to get some response. Sorry that this happened to you.

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  60. Hi Meeta, I totally agree with you. Employees involved in committing this act should be chided and enlightened by TOI. It is sad that TOI has such rude employees who are not ready to reply to your letter.

    I hope someone from TOI will notice these posts and better be sorry for what they have made you undergo. I will spread this with all my known TOI fans and huge IT community friends. Let the people in Pune and rest of India come to know about such editors so that they will not repeat this in future. TOI has been my fav news paper and hope it continues to be.

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  61. Good for you Meeta, I hope you get action.

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  62. im not suprised. Plagiarism and stealing is so common in India that even big "reputable" companies lihe the Times wouldnt stop to think twice about something like this... i bet they think that whatever's on the Net is free.

    you should report this to the other newspapers in India.. lol i bet they would jump at this tidbit!
    i love your photos!! you should start a food stock photo site!

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  63. Once again thank you so much for your support and especially a few of the ideas here. I really appreciate it. The fact that TOI is such a sleazy trashy paper is becoming more obvious. But the only way we can raise awareness of this is by talking about it.

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  64. Well Meeta what can I say...just last month the same thing happened to me and I am going legal now...3 newspapers have shamelessly stolen my photograph posted on Flickr.

    I was led to your blog through one of the links given by one of the readers of my blog.

    http://rang-thecoloursoflife.blogspot.com/2008/09/think-before-you-upload.html

    Take care and do keep us posted on the latest.

    Archana

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  65. TOI is definitely the Trash of India. I have stopped reading the newspaper while I was doing my graduation and loved Indian Express for their investigative journalism. You should write this letter to other mainstream media guys and hopefully they will publish this. I came here after reading twilight's plight. It's really sad.

    You gotta good blog. Consider adding yourself at blogadda.com from where I discovered many good blogs.

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  66. Arch, thanks for your comment. I am getting more and more shocked at all the stories I have been hearing and think too the best way to get them is by going legal.

    Sheetal, Yes I will do this - I did write to HT but apparently as they themselves stoop to such actions did not bother to reply. But I will contact Indian Express!

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  67. Meeta, thanks for letting me know about your experience. I will link your post to my main post - I have already linked two bloggers who had their photos stolen, twilight fairy
    http://blog.twilightfairy.in/2008/09/01/toi-believes-flickr-is-for-flicking/
    who had her picture stolen from Times of India and Archana who had a picture of hers stolen by the Hindustan Times:
    http://rang-thecoloursoflife.blogspot.com/2008/09/think-before-you-upload.html
    Both of them are planning to file suits against the newspapers. I am not planning to do so but will be supporting Twilight Fairy (she is planning something, I am not sure what).

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  68. TOI has lived up to its legacy again ... hopefully people will stop buying their newspaper ... or rather trash paper ... there's no news in it anyway except for the page 3 parties in town

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  69. Nita, I am too planning to sue them. After long dealings with these people I realize it will go nowhere. I think you should too. It will make them take notice.

    Lucid Illusions - so I've heard! Trashy thieves is what i am calling them. But their card house will come falling down soon.

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  70. Hi,
    Sharing a Blog Cartoon I made related to this menace.

    Regards
    RK

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  71. Meeta,
    Delicious posts and pics! 'Rambling with Bellur' honoured to blogroll this tasty blog.
    Take care
    RK

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  72. I am not surprised with TOI's arrogant behaviour. I have freelanced for them in the past and often, I have not been paid; this after completing the job. Do you know, they send you out of town and ask you to pay for the tickets and accomodation? Then, if the job is dropped, they don't compensate you for expenses...they tell you they will 'adjust' it on another job. And that never happens! They still pay a pittance to freelancers for articles; it's pathetic. But that's how they make their money - by cheating others.

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  73. I got to this page thru "a mad tea party"
    did the matter get resolved?
    you are an amazing woman and i love reading your blog. :)

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta