My phone buzzed and I reached over to pick it up. The text was from my mother.
“I nd ur sris 4 wassantya”
I texted her back. “What do you mean?”
“I need ur saris 4 wassantya”
She is not a woman of many words.
The last time I’d engaged with one of my mother’s “customs” I’d ended up being given directions to walk for a mile and a half to see someone called Takunda (or possibly “a takunda”, like a title), to “accept anything she gives you to eat”, and then watching as the door I knocked on slowly opened and a small, wizened woman appeared, who openly scrutinised me before stepping back to let me pass, telling me “When you enter my house, you are free like water.”
Yes, this really is my life.
So anyway, suffice to say I’m kind of used to my mother’s “customs” by now – from what I can gather, she seems to collect them from various friends’ cultures – and so I wasn’t as confused by the “nd ur sris” request as someone else in a similar position might have been.
This week, as I mentioned a few days ago when I was ranting about my body clock, I’m heading to TDFCon, a digital forensics research conference at Teesside University in Middlesbrough. After that, I’m training someone for work nearby, and my mother lives, if not exactly close to either of the places I’ll be, at least closer than I normally am.
Of course this revelation led to a family reunion being set up, and the trip has now ended up including Glasgow and Dundee, because we can’t do anything in a straightforward way in our family. We need to have a “family meeting”, apparently, to discuss the future care of my grandparents, and this means I’ll be able to see my favourite aunt, who lives in a field with a load of dogs and is about as antisocial as I am. I haven’t seen her since I was seventeen, so we have a lot of catching up to do.
As part of the general conversation leading up to this, my mother mentioned that she wanted my saris so that she and her friends could perform wassantya. Actually, I’ve just googled it, and it turns out that it’s a Sri Lankan wedding dance and you actually spell it ‘wassanayata’ and it looks like this:
…which is very pretty. Although my mother’s nickname among her friends is “Don’t Dance” (yes, really), so both of us are intrigued to see how it’ll go.
So that’s why she needs my saris, and why along with all my digital forensics/penetration testing gear, and my books and headphones and stash of snacks and actual clothes, I’m also packing four saris, which take up a surprisingly large amount of room.
As well as this I’m also taking my mother’s old sewing box (on the right) because the other day when we were on the phone she was lamenting not having one, and then I reminded her that she’d thrown it out because she didn’t want it but I’d rescued it from the bin. So that’s going up to her too. When I come back my bag will no doubt be significantly lighter, although there will be a temptation to fill up on Scottish food while I can.
Other items of note in my bag include the coffee pods (just behind the passport) which are amazing and a lifesaver when you’re travelling. If you’re constantly lamenting the lack of good coffee in hotel rooms (hello, Nescafe instant), these will make your life worth living again. Essentially, it’s filter coffee that’s brewed in a bag, meaning that as long as you have access to a place to boil water, you can make coffee that tastes like coffee and not like ground-up, bitter dust.
I’m also taking along Mattia Epifani’s book, Learning iOS Forensics. There are a couple of reasons for this: firstly, I’ll be reviewing it shortly on Forensic Focus, and secondly, I already do Windows forensics and my day-to-day OS is Kali Linux, but put me in front of a Mac and I can’t work out how to open a browser. So it’s about time I start focusing on that, too.
I met Mattia at DFRWS in Dublin a few weeks ago, where we discovered a mutual coffee snobbery (unsurprising, considering our heritages) and an enthusiasm for forensic analysis of anonymous browsers. I interviewed him over un espresso doppio in University College Dublin’s cafe (which boasts Italian baristas, and therefore good coffee) about the challenges of Tor forensics.
Now I’m going to try and finish the novel I’m currently reading so I don’t have to lug it across the country with me (it’s big, and it’s really good).
Until next time…