Something is Better than Nothing

Writer’s block is threatening to take over this blog of mine. The blog is certainly starving as the last post was written exactly 8 days ago.I push myself to dish out a super quick 55er or rant about some random thought, but the blinking cursor on the blank page has mesmerized me. I snap myself out of the reverie and reach out to my trusted memes at the Sunday Stealing.  And as always, it takes me a few minutes to get going with the Q&As of this Big Bad Meme. Why it is called the Big Bad Meme…well, I don’t know. But, here I go with their Qs and my As…

  • Is there anyone else in the room with you atm? What are they doing? I am alone at the moment! 
  • Do you show your teeth when you smile, or do you prefer smiling with your lips closed? I just checked my pictures on Facebook and in almost all of them my teeth are visible. That’s a revelation!
  • Would you rather be told the truth, even if it isn’t what you want to hear? Aah! The truth that hurts or the lie that you want to hear! Oh, without a doubt, truth always.
  • What is something that you plan to buy, as soon as you’ve saved up the money for it? Wide angle lens for my DSLR.
  • Do you play Sudoku? No. Numbers are not my forte. Word games and puzzles are what I like the most. Mom is a Sudoku addict though and she is quite an expert at solving them.
  • Have you ever had a migraine? Thankfully, no.
  • What was the last book you read for pleasure? Mrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna. Really liked her style of wit and humour.
  • What was the last item of clothing you purchased for yourself? Some tops.
  • Your first serious relationship, do you still talk to him/her? Yes
  • Who is the last person you texted? My best friend from school days. It’s her birthday today.
  • How close is your family? Very close-knit! Touchwood!
  • Is there anything too serious to be joked about? Yes, lots of things, but there’s a difference between handling a tragedy /trauma / pain with humour and making jokes about it.
  • Do you like to understand and have good knowledge of things? Absolutely!
  • What is worse? Back pain or shoulder pain? Certainly, back pain. It troubles me a LOT, especially when I have to stand for long hours!
  • Have you ever almost fallen off of something high off the ground? Oh! Tripping and falling is my middle name.
  • What’s one fruit you love in drinks? Lime
  • What is something simple that you’re afraid of? Lizards. Yesterday, I found a dead lizard in a corner and it freaked me out. Had to call my maid who was working at the neighbours to remove it. She was laughing at me even today as she couldn’t believe that somebody could get scared of a dead lizard. Of course, she doesn’t know that I was a Bio student once had dissected hundreds of animals without a qualm in my younger days!
  • Has this weekend been good? Yes, pretty relaxing!
  • How much time do you take to get ready in the morning? Depends on the available time. Last month, at a training workshop, after silencing the alarm, I decided to get that 5 more minutes of sleep. And when I opened my eyes and looked at the phone clock, I jumped out of bed in an adrenaline-gushing state of emergency! I just had less than ten minutes to reach the conference hall. I got ready in record 5 minutes with bath et al. I created a personal record of its kind that day!
  • Last movie you watched in a theatre and with whom? Tanu Weds Manu Returns in Shimla with Aaryan and his friends and their mommies. The boys were not keen to watch it but we forced it on them as we had 4 hours to kill before it was time for the scheduled departure of our bus.

Aah! Finally a post is done! Something is better than nothing! Do you agree?

Drink Beer for Big Ideas

A few days ago, a friend narrated an incident from his office. The Projects team and the consulting agency were brainstorming for a new project.  They spent considerable time discussing the pros and cons of the various ideas but none appealed to the big boss. Since, it was something urgent, they couldn’t postpone it for the next day. It was afternoon and they all appeared tired but not defeated. While they were forcing their grey cells to come up with some fresh thoughts and ideas, the consultant suggested that they go out for a couple of beers. Almost every one in the room was shocked at the outrageous idea and some even thought that he had lost it.

But the consultant with his years of experience knew what he was talking about. He convinced the 4 member team to step out of the office for drinks. Strictly beer, he reminded them.

An hour later, when they returned back to the meeting room, the ideas flowed freely and some were really creative which were approved by the boss immediately.

I asked my friend about the rationale of having beers at work hours and how it boosted their productivity. He mentioned something about creativity. I wanted to ask him more about it, but my questions were drowned in the crib fest started by the rest of the group. They whined about his good luck of having beer during work hours and how they wanted the same to happen in their organizations too.

Don’t know about them, but the word creativity and its linkage to beer, piqued  my interest sufficiently to seek answers from Google the God.

And as usual the God did not disappoint, in fact  it shattered a lot of myths and also explained why the consultant was right in taking the team out for beer. Check out this infographic to believe it.

Beer and Coffee

So, next time you experience writer’s block or are stuck for creative ideas for a blog post or a story, or need big ideas for anything, you know where to head. Cheers folks!

Linking this to Write Tribe’s Monday Musings

MondayMusings

Image : Source

We Got Snail Mail

When the idea of writing letters via the snail mail to virtual friends was shared at BAR, I was quick to grab it. I know how amazing it is to write and receive letters. I used to exchange a lot of letters with cousins and friends when I was in school and college. In fact, had 2 pen friends too. Then, emails entered our lives and the joy of writing on inland letters or picture postcards was pushed back in the cold storage.

Since the last 4 years, these snail mails have entered our lives, once again. And that’s because our son, Aaryan is in a boarding school and it is mandatory for us to exchange letters. So, we are back to reading and writing letters. Aah! The charm, fun, anticipation and excitement of writing and receiving letters.

To be a part of this excitement was something I could not miss, so I took up the Snail Mail Challenge at BAR, without a second thought!  Like the sorting hat at Hogwarts, we were randomly assigned friends to whom we had to write a letter. The recipient of the letter would know the sender only on the receipt of the letter! Yes, that would be like double bonanza for the recipient!

snail-mail

One bright sunny day, I received an Air Mail. It was from Eloquent Mind who lives in USA. Seeing a fat envelope, my heart did a happy dance! And it continued to dance and sing too as I opened and read the contents of her letter. There were 2 elements in the envelope. The first one was a long letter consisting of 5 pages written in a neat and beautiful handwriting!! I am sure, she would have got extra marks for good handwriting, at school! In this long missive, EM had shared about her life with family and friends in NJ. It made for a heart warming read. The second part had an instruction, “Please open after reading the letter!” and I did just that! The smile on my face after reading her letter had not dimmed and it brightened a shade more when I opened the second package. Smiling back at me were EM and her husband and their cute lil daughter which was followed by big smiles from their friends too. So, I am the lucky one, who not only knows EM’s real name, but have met her family and friends too!

Now it was my turn to write a letter to a virtual friend. I wrote a letter to Sfurti Sinha! Writing to her was like doing the time travel. As I shared about our life and things we had in common, ( Yes, Mumbai is a link between us), my heart took me back in time, as visuals of love, life, friends, jobs, homes, places gone by flashed in front of my eyes. Writing a letter to Sfurti was a beautiful memory-prompt!

While receiving the letter from EM and writing to Sfurti was a lovely experience, checking whether Sfurti had received my letter was marked with anxiety and panic bouts.

Online tracking record of courier company was not updated and their customer care can be described as one the lousiest one! Sending subtle clues to Sfurti in our Facebook group to acknowledge the receipt of my letter did not work at all. I was getting all restless, and in that state, I sent her an email. And guess what, she did not respond to that too. Her silence clouded my mind with all kinds of weird thoughts, till I could not take it any more and asked Shailaja to check with her. Shailaja was finally able to put a stop to the whirlwind activity that was taking place in my head and shared that dear Sfurti was hospitalized as she had Dengue fever, and thus the delay in acknowledgement from her end! I sent a prayer upwards for her recovery and that I was finally at peace. Usually, the receiver of the letter is filled with anticipation, but here it was reverse anticipation!

After these letters, we connected online  and carried forward the conversations from our letters. In all, it was a great feel-happy experience! Thanks Shailaja for a fun challenge!

Do you like writing and receiving snail mail?

Image : Source

Would You Rather…

It’s that dull and uninspiring day when I want to write and am not able to write. Memes are my best friends for such blank and boring days. Would You Rather Meme from the Sunday Stealing came to my rescue once again. So, here I go with their Qs and my As…

1. Would you rather go to a movie or to dinner alone?

I’d rather go to a movie alone but have actually had dinner alone in restaurants many times. That usually happens when I am traveling for work. A few of my friends told me that they’d never eat out alone. Surprisingly, it never crossed my mind to be self conscious about it.

2. Would you rather always say everything on your mind or never speak again? 

Say everything on my mind. Keeping it bottled up inside will suffocate me and will add to the burden on my heart and head. Saying it aloud removes confusions and misunderstandings and may even clear the air with the other person.

3. Would you rather make a phone call or send a text? 

Predominantly would send a text, but don’t mind picking up the phone and talking too.

4. Would you rather read an awesome book or watch a good movie? 

This is a tough one. I’d love reading an awesome book and watch a good movie too. But if I have to pick one, then a book would be my first choice!

5. Would you rather be the most popular person at work or school or the smartest? 

Definitely, the smartest. Being wise and smart may bring popularity too, though being popular is not on my agenda.

6. Would you rather put a stop to war or end world hunger? 

Though both should not be there. But I’d go with ending world hunger.

7. Would you rather spend the night in a luxury hotel room or camping surrounded by beautiful scenery? 

Camping with family and friends.

8. Would you rather explore space or the ocean?

I’d like to explore the ocean. The marine life and its myriad flora and fauna fascinates me.

9. Would you rather go deep sea diving or bungee jumping? 

Deep sea diving . One of the reasons would be to explore the mesmerizing marine life and the second is that I love swimming.

10. Would you rather be a kid your whole life or an adult your whole life? 

This is a tough choice. I have enjoyed my childhood and being an adult is one happy ride too. I’ll opt for being an adult my whole life, though.

11. Would you rather go on a cruise with friends or with your spouse? 

At this point of time, definitely with spouse. God, we both need a break from our hectic pace of life. But we love travelling with friends too.

12. Would you rather lose your keys or your cell phone? 

Keys. These can be replaced. On second thoughts, I don’t mind losing my cell phone too. Have back-up of all the phone data plus I need a new phone.

13. Would you rather eat a meal of cow tongue or octopus? 

Neither. But have heard that octopus is delicious.

14. Would you rather have x-ray vision or magnified hearing?

X-ray vision sounds very exciting.

15. Would you rather work in a group or work alone?

Have worked in teams and alone as well. Between the two, I like working alone. Gives me all the freedom and peace of mind too.

My Preferences… Book-wise

After writing and posting every day (well almost), last month, I decided to take it a bit easy in May. Only 2 posts in 10 days is a testimony of the fact that I took it a bit too easy. Today, when I was keen to write something, a cycle of a blank page followed by keying in of a few sentences which were erased soon by the backspace key followed by a blank page stared back at me. It seems that the grey cells have gone for an extended vacation. For such dull and uninspiring days, Memes work best for me. I came across this fun and interesting Book Preference Meme, here. So, here I go with my preferences… book-wise!

  • Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror?

I read all these genres. But if I were to pick one from these three, then it would be Horror.

  • Hardback or Trade paperback or Mass market paperback?

Trade paperback are easy to carry and read. Though Hardbacks look great in my library cupboard.

  • Amazon or Brick and Mortar?

Amazon without a doubt!

  • Barnes & Noble or Borders?

Barnes & Noble. Have bought books and CDs for Aaryan from this giant. Borders has closed down now and they never had a store in India!

  • Bookmark or Dog-ear?

Always a bookmark. Hate Dog-ears!

  • Asimov’s Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction?

I haven’t read Asimov, so Fantasy and Science fiction it will be for me.

  • Alphabetize by author, Alphabetize by title, or Random?

Random

  • Keep, Throw away or Sell?

Keep. Will never be able to throw away a book. And never sold a book too.

  • Keep dust-jacket or Toss it?

Keep. They look great!

  • Read with dust-jacket or Remove it?

Remove it while reading!

  • Short story or Novel?

Both, depending on the mood and time.

  • Stop reading when tired or at Chapter breaks?

For a not so great book, I stop whenever the words stop registering. But with interesting books, I always stop reading when the chapter ends.

  • “It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time?”

It was a dark and stormy night… comes with a lot of interesting possibilities.

  • Buy or Borrow?

Buy, always! Since I don’t lend my books, so I don’t borrow either.

  • Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse?

Usually book reviews from fellow blogger friends.

  • Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?

Collection, as you are familiar with the author’s writing style. In an Anthology, there could be some black sheep but then you get to read some amazing new authors/stories too.

  • Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?

It doesn’t matter as long as the book is well written.

  • Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Night-time reading?

Anytime is a good time to read books.

  • Standalone or Series?

I prefer standalone books. I don’t mind series though, but then I prefer to read the series in quick succession without much time gap interval.

  • Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

Nobody? Now that’s a bit far-fetched!

  • Favorite genre series?

Harry Potter series. That reminds me that I must pick this series once again and read all at one go. I also liked Clifton Chronicles by Jeffery Archer, though I have read just 2 from this series.

  • Currently Reading?

The Wedding Trousseau and Other Short Stories By Ankita Sharma and Story of Tublu by Jahid Akhtar. Both the books are written by fellow bloggers.

What are some of your preferences book-wise?

Usual Places, Unusual Sights

During our last visit to Mussoorie, we halted our journey to visit the Bhatoli village. We parked our vehicle on the road and trekked a few meters down the hill. We were to visit a temple there.

The golden yellow coloured hundreds of corn cobs hanging outside the homes in the village was the first thing that caught our attention.

2015-03-04 23.08.44

2015-03-02 10.06.09

No, these corns are not used as decoratives but is the harvest of the season.  After the corn is harvested in Sept-Oct, they are hung outside the homes and plucked off from the string as and when needed for consumption. It was raining that day and these corns on the strings were dripping wet. I wondered, if the damp corn would rot. My query was laughed off and I was told that the next day’s sun would dry it and it would be good to use. I found it strange but then that’s how the villagers are preserving and consuming their harvest of the year for ages!

**********

I was reading a book while waiting for the flight to be announced at the Dehradun airport. As I turned the page of my book, my attention wandered a bit and I looked around. Seated behind my row of chairs was a foreigner. And I was surprised to see her doing what she was doing. No, she wasn’t doing anything out of ordinary. But the unusual about her was …

Well, see it for yourself…

2015-03-03 11.24.30

Yes, she was reading Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat!!  Soon enough, we got chatting and she told me about her love for India. This was her fifth visit to India and she had visited Jaipur twice. Amazing isn’t it! Her Indian friend recommended CB’s book to her and she quite liked his writing style. And guess what, she loves Sudha Murthy’s books and has read quite a few of them. Double amazing!! While we were discussing about Indian authors and books, she mentioned that she’d be buying books in bulk from Flora Fountain at Mumbai as they are pretty economical there!! Triple Amazing?!? Nah, I was simply floored!!

Oh yes, this picture was clicked with her consent!

**********

While, I was browsing through the books at the airport book stall, I saw these 4 books in one corner.

2015-03-07 10.44.52

As you can see these are the Hindi editions of the Mills & Boon from Harlequin. Looks like the king of romantic fiction has forayed into Indian regional publishing market. And there’s a huge market for this, the bookseller informed me. Aah! Well, may be! But the titles of these books in Hindi will put me off Mills & Boon, forever!

What do you think?

Classified Chats with Quikr Nxt

Web sites that showcase classified ads have grown over the last few years. They have truly made life easier for buyers and sellers. I have posted many ads in the recent past on these online classified sites and I was surprised by the number of leads that got generated through these free ads. The initial euphoria of getting calls for the ads that I had placed soon died down as I faced an issue that was seemingly going out of hand.

It was a deluge of calls. It was overwhelming and that they came at all hours was bordering on irritation! Also some callers were just seeking information with no intent of buying and some were prank calls!!

And then, I came to know about a new feature from Quikr which is called Quikr Nxt.

brandcover

When my sister was thinking of replacing his existing car, I suggested her to do it through Quikr Nxt. We sat together and posted the advertisement for the car at Quikr.com. The MSP feature helped us to know whether there was synergy between our expected price and the maximum price our car would fetch.

Soon enough an instant message popped up on the screen. It was a message from a prospective buyer. He asked for some more car details which we provided instantly in the chat message. I liked that when we used Quikr Nxt, we didn’t had to share our phone number /e mail id on the website. (We clicked ‘Maintain My Privacy’ in the ‘Your Contact Information’ when we placed our free ad. )This new feature gave us complete online privacy. Also we could chat with multiple buyers in parallel chat windows.

Unlike the earlier hassle of entertaining calls at all hours, with the chat feature at Quikr Nxt, one can chat at our convenience. So, no more excusing yourself in the middle of a meeting or no disturbance during your afternoon siesta!

Another fabulous feature of this instant messaging is that one does not have to refer to the notes or remember the exchange one had with so many prospective buyers. It’s all there in the past chats histories. This is a life saver, actually! No more confusion and not much strain on the grey cells too.

Now, while posting the ad, we shared 5-6 pictures of our car, which were the view of the car from the front, side, back etc. One customer wanted to have a close-up of the upholstery and another wanted to know the speedometer reading. No problem there, all we had to do was click a few additional pictures of the car and share it with the customer. I think, this sharing of photos by addressing the specific customer query helps to close the deal better.

Soon we had a buyer whose expectations matched with ours. Thanks to Quikr Nxt, selling our car was so easier and hassle-free.

This post is written for Indiblogger and Quikr.com

1000th Blog Post Today…

This is my thousandth post! It is so hard to believe that I have written 1000 posts at this space since May 2009. The more I think about this number, the harder it is to believe.1000posts

Whether my foggy grey cells comprehend it or not (I am in Shimla which has an overcast of clouds leading to a terribly cold day, hence the fog might have settled on my grey cells too!), but the fact is that the numbers do not lie.

So, here I am with 1000 posts live on my blog. If I look back on my blogging journey, I realize that when I first started writing at this space, it was all personal. I shared my daily happenings or interests and life in general around me. And then like unexpected things that happen in our life, the unexpected and never explored before, happened on my blog too. Yes, I expanded my horizon to writing 55 Fiction, Drabbles, book reviews, photo challenges, social causes, lists, Ten on Tuesdays etc. I am glad that I forayed into diverse topics as doing the same thing again and again often leads to boredom and fatigue. I am glad that I changed the tone of my blog over a period of time and evolved its voice. Of course, all this was shaped by the readers and commenters as much as it was by me. I’d like to believe that all this change worked for me. What do you think about it?

These past few days, I was reading my old posts. While some brought smiles and some revived old memories, some made me go wow! Yes, I loved what I had written! And some were totally cringe worthy too. I was like, “Gosh! Did I write this?” And such posts were not one or two but so many of them.  This made me realize that on your blog you not only get a second chance, or a third… or a fourth…  in fact a lot of chances to make errors, learn and grow. How wonderful is that!

I’d like to take this as an opportunity to sincerely thank you, the fellow bloggers, commenters, regular /occasional readers for being with me at different points of my 1,000 posts journey. I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone! Thank You for all your support and encouragement! It means a lot!

I don’t know what lies ahead in between now and the next 1,000 posts. Yes, I am being too ambitious and optimistic. I have an idea of some things that will happen but then that’s the fun part – taking it as it comes.

Thank you all for the first 1,000 memories – here’s to continued reading, writing, learning and growing ahead.

Is Laundry Only a Woman’s Job

laundry

I believe, this quote was written for our family!

Laundry is considered probably the most boring chore but not at our home. With three small kids, my mom had her hands full and laundry baskets fuller. Of course, her passion for cleanliness /hygiene, pushed some additional clothes in the laundry basket. In those days, washing machines at home were unheard of. The clothes were washed by hands then. Though I don’t remember seeing my dad washing clothes but he helped in making soap at home. blog photos 053 Yes, those days, making laundry soap at home was a fad. The soap was made and then solidified and stored in big tubs. Dad helped in carrying the buckets of washed clothes from second floor to the terrace and helped in tightening of the clothesline.

And once the clothes were dry, mom would fold the laundry and arrange them in cupboards while Dad ironed clothes. As we grew older, we started helping both of them in folding and ironing. I remember, pestering Dad to let me iron the handkerchief in the end. Laundry was a family affair at our home.

When KG and I set up or our home after marriage, with both of us working long hours,  household chores were a joint responsibility. Till date, we have never classified the various chores as ‘His and Hers’. So, right from cooking, washing dishes, dusting to doing laundry, we do it without labelling it as one person’s domain chore. Of course, I have the upper hand in finding faults in his laundry and it is his prerogative to pick on the food that I cook.

When, I saw these statistics from Ariel, I was surprised. I pondered over it for a few minutes and realized that while Dad helped in a lot of chores at home, he never really washed clothes and most of our male friends don’t do laundry either.

statsariel

Washing laundry in a washing machine has become the go-to method for everybody now-a-days.  And we have strong soaps and detergents which give clean and effective cleaning in minutes. It is no longer the tedious process of washing with hands and with soap bars that would lather with difficulty. So, I am amazed that despite the advancements in every sphere,  laundry is still considered a woman’s job. And that inequality is still prevalent in  our homes.

I think the men who were a part of this survey were either from my Dad’s generation or have a story which reads like this..

“I’m never letting you do my laundry. Again.”
“I didn’t know the red towel was in there,” Prophet protested.
“You did it on purpose to get out of doing laundry.”
“Maybe. But it worked.” – S.E. Jakes

Jokes apart, just as so many men are entering kitchens and dominate them too, it’s time, they enter the laundry room and …

Laundry 2

What’s the laundry story at your home?

“I am writing for #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob activity at BlogAdda.com in association with Ariel.”

How We Met

The College Years!! Those were the days… left the comforts of home for the first time.. made a group out of the first few people we met… hanging out together between classes… sitting together during lunch and dinners at the mess… staying up all night with a steady dose of tea and snacks to complete assignments. Complaining about anything and everything, learning to share opinions, discovering ourselves and forging some wonderful bonds….

And then life happened… new jobs, different cities/countries, marriage and then kids… The ‘nice and wild’ days were all left behind as we embraced the newer roles and challenges of life.

One fine day, out of the blue, years later, a mail in my inbox popped out. It was from a college friend from the distant past. The heart did a time travel across emails and then Facebook, on and off, for a good two decades. The mails saw us exchanging stories of our lives, marriages, kids, work, friends and experiences.

And then we happened to be in the same city at the same time. ‘Can we meet?’, the question popped up in one of our chats. Of course, we can and we must! And as the day came closer, anticipation was killing me. What if, he is not able to make it? What if, there’s an exigency? What-if… What-if…

Finally, the day arrived and I could barely contain my excitement. And thankfully, all went well for me, no exigency, no traffic jams and I reached before the scheduled time. As I sat by the window at the cafe, lost in some last minute anxiety-laced-thinking… ‘would it be awkward… after all we would be meeting after two decades?’…

Someone tapped me on the shoulder — I turned around and found myself looking at hisIt's Coffee twinkling eyes and a beaming smile. As I got up and extended my hand, he engulfed me in a big bear hug. Thoughts of awkwardness on meeting a friend after a long time simply vanished and as we sat drinking coffee and talking… Talking about mutual friends, remembering the nicknames we had given to professors and some friends and telling stories we had forgotten…

As we emptied our first cup of coffee, two excited voices broke our chain of conversation. We looked up and added more to the buzz around us. In front of us were two batch mates. Oblivious to the minor pandemonium that we were creating, we chatted animatedly. Remembering and sharing the inside jokes that still sounded sooo hilarious, re-living the memories of life at the campus…

We talked about how we had expected our life to be and how it played out for each one of us.  We shared so many stories that time simply flew by… so quickly!

We realized that though the greys and a few wrinkles, along with adipose layers at unflattering places had changed us physically but underneath we were still the same wonderful people who were friends decades ago.

Though, Facebook and Twitter had united us again but there’s nothing like meeting our friends in the real world. No matter how far we were all these years, we were able to pick up right where we left off… We all laughed so much that day and our happiness knew no bounds. The emotional connect cannot be replaced by the smileys on the internet chat and comments on Facebook posts. The bond is strengthened and deepened when we connect in the real world with real friends.

We realized that reunion reveals friendship potential that haven’t yet been emerged in the past.

It is true that good things happen when we get together! And this is reflected in Starbucks first ever brand campaign, ‘Meet me at Starbucks‘. This campaign encourages people to meet and experience genuine moments of connections.

Do share your interesting ‘#HowWeMet’ stories at http://www.meetmeatstarbucks.in

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