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The best $96 I ever spent: A Keurig to show my mom I love her

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The small mountain of plastic coffee cups began accumulating in my car about a week after I got my driver’s license, and just kept piling up from there. My friends and I joked that the workers at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through had basically become my family, and my actual family complained endlessly about my routine of buying iced coffee on the drive to school.

Zhège kāfēi dōngxī? Bùnéng kòngzhì, my parents complained. This coffee thing? It’s getting out of hand. But neither of my parents had spent their summer afternoons walking our neighbor’s rowdy dogs in the sticky Florida heat, so I argued that I could use my money however I wanted. By February, though, the empty Dunkin’ cups began encroaching on my car’s floor space and console. As my mini-mountain of junk grew, so did the dent in my savings. I reluctantly agreed that it was time for an intervention.

If it were up to my mom, I would’ve just started making coffee on the ancient Mr. Coffee machine she used to brew her own morning fix, but I dragged her to the nearest Bed Bath and Beyond instead. We stood in the appliance section, surveying shelves of coffee machine options. I knew I would never be able to figure how to use the French press. And a newer generation of my mom’s beloved Mr. Coffee machine would be too boring.

But a Keurig, complete with a pack of generic brand K-cups? Perfect. When I cringed at the $96 price tag, my mom assured me I’d save money in the long run. Paying at the cash register felt like a weird rite of passage — I’d never spent that much of my own money at once, especially not on a kitchen appliance.

On my first adventure into the world of the Keurig, I felt determined to replicate my favorite drive-through iced coffee with household alternatives: Dunkin’ Donuts roast substituted for K-cup coffee pods. Caramel swirl replaced with Trader Joe’s caramel sauce, and cream with Organic Valley half-and-half.

My creation tasted exactly how it sounds: terrible. The half-and-half made the coffee watery, somehow, and the caramel stuck to the side of the glass in globs. My kitchen workspace descended into disaster, the tabletop splattered with spilled caramel sauce and haphazardly strewn with containers. Plus, in my trial and error of learning how to work the Keurig (you essentially just press a button, but I was figuring out the settings, okay?), I brewed way too much and ended up with a giant tub of black coffee.

My mom and I spent a weekend finishing off the leftover coffee. Tǐng hǎo hē de, she said one morning. It tastes pretty good. We were both surprised by this positive reaction, since my mom had sworn by the exact same Folgers roast formula all 17 years of my life. So the next time I brewed a cup of coffee for myself, I grabbed another K-cup from the cabinet and made a mug for my mom, too. And the next time. And the next.

In order to fully understand my feelings about becoming an accidental home barista, it is important to also understand this fact about the Chinese language. Although the direct translation for “I love you” is Wǒ ài nǐ, the phrase is just not part of anyone’s common vernacular. The only people who use the word ài are probably white, and definitely got the 爱 character tattooed on their lower back at some point in their lives.

Instead of saying the phrase, or hanging a sign in their hallway that reminds everyone to “live, laugh, love,” Chinese families relish in making each other food and drink — spicy Má pó tofu, vibrantly garnished noodles, green tea brewed from Longjing leaves. And of course, fruit. My mom brings me cut fruit constantly. A plate of cubed mango after we’d argued meant “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.” A bowl of pomegranate seeds might signify “congratulations” or “good luck.” But mostly, there is no occasion. My mom offers me fruit during mundane moments: at the table after dinner, as I study for finals, while I watch Netflix, the act as ordinary yet as affecting as being tucked into bed as a kid.

I recognized this assertion of love, but completely failed at participating in it. When my mom attempted to teach me how to break down a pomegranate to separate the seeds, I accidentally sliced my palm with the knife. Once, I tried to microwave a hard boiled egg and caused a small explosion. Whenever I actually completed the task of making fried rice or an American dish like alfredo pasta for my family, it just tasted bad.

But I could make this Keurig coffee, and my mom genuinely enjoyed it. She enjoyed each morning cup with a smile, and carried the mug with her throughout her morning routine. At the end of February, the Mr. Coffee machine got relegated to the pantry. It became second nature for me to brew two servings of coffee, one for each of us.

Then in March, Covid-19 struck, shrinking my life to the confines of my house. In the face of a long and lonely summer, I became truly obsessed with perfecting Keurig machine coffee. I learned from TikTok how to froth milk in the microwave. I tried making matcha and chai lattes. While on a quest for the best coffee pod formula, I stumbled upon the K-cup reusable coffee filter. Between my old penchant for drive-through Dunkin’ Donuts and my new fixation with the Keurig, I could finally enjoy coffee without wasting an inordinate amount of plastic.

Most importantly, I kept making coffee for my mom. The act morphed into a daily habit, an essential step of my morning just like brushing my teeth or eating breakfast. For myself, I made a glass of Keurig coffee poured over wedges of refrigerator ice. The recipe constantly shifted between cow’s or oat or almond milk and maple or sugar or vanilla, but never reached its ideal form. For my mom, I followed a constant formula: a mug of hot coffee with a splash of half-and-half. Even on mornings when I didn’t make myself a cup, her patterned floral mug sat faithfully on the kitchen counter, the coffee inside slightly steaming.

Through my ritual of using the Keurig, I could set aside 10 minutes a day to do something entirely for my mom. Although unintentionally at first, I would fill that time by thinking about her, and the two of us. As I filled up the water reservoir, I hoped she would have a good day at work. As I fiddled with the machine’s settings and set out the carton of half-and-half, I wondered about her health, even worried about things like her blood pressure (I could never figure out if it was too high or too low) and periodic headaches. As I poured and stirred the drink, I thought idly about news articles or stories about school and my friends that I thought that she would enjoy.

My dad dislikes the taste and idea of coffee — he thinks that it causes caffeine dependency. But I’m confident I’ll be able find an avenue to express my love for him too, because through my newfound coffee-brewing routine, I finally understand my parents’ perspective.

I’d always seen my mom’s elaborate meals and carefully sliced plates of fruit as a fun quirk, but the cultural differences in my and my parents’ approach to relationships still created tension and sometimes, even resentment. When we argued, I would gripe, “Why can’t you just say ‘I love you’? Is it really that hard?” My parents preached that real affection was found in actions and not words, but that always frustrated me. My parents provided me a safe place to live and made my meals and literally kept me alive — what kind of action could I take that wouldn’t immediately pale in comparison? But my coffee-brewing proved that the gravity of the action didn’t matter. Instead, what counted was the routine, the consistency, the small, daily gift.

I imagine that my mom and I are having this elaborate conversation through our cooking and brewing. This cup of coffee means “I’m sorry.” This one means “Thank you.” This one means “I forgive you for being annoying and making me feel bad about getting Dunkin’ in the first place.” But every single cup proclaims, “I love you, Mom.” Thanks to the Keurig, I can finally speak her language.

Katherine Oung is a high school senior from Florida whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Teen Vogue, Balance the Ballot, and more.

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World

China-made Tesla electric cars to start selling in Europe

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US-based electric carmaker says it will start shipping its entry-level Model 3 from Shanghai factory to more than 10 European countries this month.

Tesla Inc. will start exporting Model 3 sedans made at its gigafactory on the outskirts of Shanghai to Europe later this month, seeking to boost sales in one of the fastest-growing electric-car markets.

The car will be shipped to more than 10 countries, including Germany, France and Switzerland, the automaker said in a statement sent via WeChat on Monday. The company’s Shanghai factory — its first outside the U.S. — opened for local deliveries at the start of this year.

“We hope to serve global customers as a global factory,” Tesla’s manufacturing director of the Shanghai site, Song Gang, said in an interview with local reporters. “The export of China-built Tesla models is a key step in the global layout.”

The Shanghai factory has helped Tesla expand in China, and the company has said it has capacity to produce 200,000 vehicles a year at the site. Monthly registrations of locally made Teslas have been in the 11,000 range for several months, falling to 10,881 in September, according to data from state-backed China Automotive Information Net.

The variant Tesla will initially export to Europe is the standard Model 3. It has a driving range of 468 kilometers (291 miles) on one charge, and it costs about $40,300 in China before local subsidies. This month, Tesla lowered the price of the model in China, a move that was enabled by it starting to use cheaper batteries from local supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., people with knowledge of the matter said.

Sales of electric vehicles in Europe are growing at such a pace that the continent looks increasingly likely to outpace China in the near future, London-based automotive research firm Jato Dynamics said this month. Tesla is in the process of setting up a factory and an engineering-and-design center near Berlin, its first in Europe.

The California-based company also said it is committed to expanding its investment in China. It plans to double its production capability, the reach of its sales and service network, charging infrastructure facilities, and employment in the country.

People familiar with the matter said last month that Tesla plans to ship cars made in Shanghai to other countries in Asia and Europe, shifting its strategy for the plant to largely focus on supplying the Chinese market. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in 2019 that the facility would only make lower-priced versions of the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover for the Greater China region, and predicted there would be enough local demand to potentially necessitate several factories in the country.

China-built Model 3s for delivery outside the country likely will start mass production in the fourth quarter, the people said last month, adding that the markets targeted included Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Europe.

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Indian actor quits Sri Lanka cricket legend’s biopic after uproar

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Vijay Sethupathi withdraws from the project after cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan warns him of backlash from Tamils over Sri Lankan civil war.

A popular actor who was set to star as Sri Lanka’s legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in a biopic withdrew from the project on Monday after the cricketer warned he could face a backlash from India’s Tamils.

Tamil politicians in India accuse Muralitharan, who retired from Test cricket in 2010, of betraying fellow Tamils in his country during a civil war that ended in 2009.

Vijay Sethupathi, 42, had been under pressure in his southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to drop the role in 800 – named after the world record number of Test wickets Muralitharan took in his celebrated career.

“I don’t want one of the finest actors in Tamil Nadu to face any kind of trouble, hence I request him to drop out of the project,” Muralitharan, 48, wrote in a letter tweeted by the actor.

“There should be no obstacles for Sethupathi in the future because of this movie.”

Sethupathi wrote alongside the image of the letter: “Thank you and goodbye.”

India’s regional Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) party, which opposes the Sinhalese-led government in Sri Lanka, demanded Sethupathi reject the role, saying Muralitharan sided with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who as president defeated the separatist Tamil Tiger uprising.

Fans also slammed the actor on social media, using the hashtag #shameonVijaySethupathi.

But several Tamil actors also came out in support of Muralitharan and Sethupati.

“[Muralitharan] is a very important topic and that film is a complex idea because Murali is one of those Indian Tamils … who were marginalised,” actor Prakash Belawadi told India Today TV.

Belawadi was referring to the two kinds of Tamils in Sri Lanka: the indigenous Eelam Tamils and the “estate Tamils” who were taken there as plantation workers by the British colonisers 200 years ago. The “estate Tamils” faced discrimination even from the native Tamils.

“Murali is a great example of somebody who has emerged from this class,” Belawadi said.

What’s the uproar about?

The enmity dates back to 2013 when Muralitharan told then-British Prime Minister David Cameron that he may have been “misled” about the human rights situation by Tamil women who complained to him about disappearances during the war.

Muralitharan, who is currently working as a bowling coach with Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad for the continuing tournament in the United Arab Emirates, had said that his remarks about Sri Lanka’s ethnic war were “misunderstood”.

Muralitharan added in the letter that he hoped a new lead would be announced soon.

“I accepted this biopic because I thought the movie will inspire and provide confidence to aspiring young cricketers,” he wrote.

A source close to Muralitharan said in Colombo: “The movie project will go on without Vijay. Producers are already discussing ways to proceed.”

The United Nations and international rights groups have accused Sri Lankan forces of killing at least 40,000 minority Tamils in the final campaign against the Tigers.

The government has denied it killed civilians.

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Archaeologists unearth ‘huge number’ of sealed Egyptian sarcophagi

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered another large cache of unopened sarcophagi in Saqqara, adding to the trove of almost 60 coffins recently recovered from the ancient necropolis.

Although full details are yet to be announced, authorities said in a statement that “a huge number” of wooden sarcophagi had been unearthed. The country’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said on Instagram that the find amounted to “dozens” of coffins, adding that they have been “sealed since ancient times.”

The collection of sarcophagi, stored in three newly discovered burial shafts, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Colored and gilded statues were also found in the tombs, a government press release said.

On Monday, El-Enany and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly visited the site alongside secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Waziri. Photos released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities show the trio being lowered into a shaft before inspecting painted coffins and a variety of other objects.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany pictured on site.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany pictured on site. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities via AP

Vast necropolis

Monday’s announcement marks the latest in a string of discoveries at Saqqara, a necropolis about 20 miles south of Cairo. The vast burial ground once served the royal capital of Memphis, and the site is also home to Egypt’s oldest surviving pyramid.
In September, archaeologists at Saqqara discovered almost 30 closed coffins in one of three burial shafts measuring 10 to 12 meters (33 to 39 feet) deep. At a press conference earlier this month, the ministry said the discovery brought the total number found inside the tombs to 59.
The collection of sarcophagi, announced on Monday, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years.

The collection of sarcophagi, announced on Monday, is believed to date back more than 2,500 years. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Officials said they believe the coffins contain senior statesmen and priests from the 26th dynasty, which ruled Egypt from 664 B.C. to 525 B.C.

The ministry said that further details of this month’s discovery will be announced at a press conference at the site in “the next few weeks.” Its announcement also revealed that Prime Minister Madbouly had produced a video in which he thanked the ministry and “expressed his great pride in the unique Egyptian civilization.”

Egypt’s new one-billion dollar museum

Although it is not yet confirmed what will happen to the newly discovered sarcophagi, some of those found earlier this year are set to go on display at the soon-to-open Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. Upon its opening, the 5.2-million-square-foot structure will become the world’s largest museum devoted to a single civilization.

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