Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shahrukh Kan't?

Yeah yeah, we know. Shahrukh Khan, the people's hero and actor extraordinaire detained for 2 hours in a U.S. airport. Poor thing.

You see, this incident comes over other issues in India right now, namely the ever-spreading swine flu and the hard-hitting drought. Nevermind that thousands of people are struggling for water and food. Nevermind that the self-proclaimed "great" Indian government crawled off to a snail's jog when it came to taking preventive measures against swine flu.

Big star, hopeless actor gets held back for 2 hours.



From an article on Yahoo! India:

Mon, Aug 17 08:25 PM

New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Home Minister P. Chidambram Monday said the Americans had 'overdone it' by detaining Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for two hours at Newark airport in New Jersey, for questioning.

'Had it been for ten minutes or even twenty minutes (of detention for questioning), one can understand it. But one fails to understand how could they hold him for two long hours?' said Chidambaram, talking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual meet of the state chief ministers and the police chiefs on internal security scenario in the country here at Vigyan Bhawan.


I suppose waiting for TEN MONTHS to get my passport renewed is understandable, the ETA being 30 days. Indian Standard (Waiting) Time.


'It takes maximum of ten minutes, say twenty minutes, even if you have to frisk a person after stripping him. They have simply overdone it,' he said.


Lathi-charging innocent bystanders, setting up fake encounter-killings, keeping "accused" in prison with no definite trial in sight - that's not overdoing it.



'And to add to the complications, they allowed SRK to make a call only after two hours. Had they allowed him to make the call in first fifteen minutes, there would have been no controversy,' said the minister.

Asked if India too would treat visiting US dignitaries or their high-profile citizens in the same manner, Chidambaram said: 'We will tell them that we do it (frisking) and checking only in civilised manner.'


Civilised. Big talk, little do.


The minister, however, lamented that such an unsavoury treatment was meted out to a high-profile citizen of a country where 'we send our joint secretaries officers to the tarmac to receive them (visiting dignitaries.)'


To the tarmac.. why not? You guys are unbeatable when it comes to sucking up. After your STRUGGLE for independence, after ALL these years, one would think you would be, well, independent, and not running behind white man behind to please white man.



Reacting to the incident, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel Sunday said that the government will take up the issue with the US government at its highest level.

'We will take the issue with the United States government strongly. Such incidents involving Indians due to their religion or nationality should not happen. We will not accept it,' said Patel.


Right. So what you're saying is that you would have taken this issue up at "its highest level" if a Mr. L. Arumugam Chinnaswamy from Karangambaddi town on the Tamilnadu-Andra Pradesh border was detained in a U.S. airport.



Khan was detained for about two hours Saturday morning at the airport in New Jersey where he had arrived to attend India's Independence Day celebrations with Indian diaspora.


Off the topic, but why was an Indian citizen who is where he is today because of the masses in India (who spend a good part of their money to see him on screen) going to the U.S. to attend INDIA's Independence Day celebrations?



Khan was released after Congress MP Rajiv Shukla spoke to the authorities in the US and the Indian consulate. Khan had been detained after his name flashed on a computer and was asked several questions about the purpose of his visit.

Tourism Minister Ambika Soni too had condemned the incident.


I hope to see the following one day:


US 'overdid' it: Chidambaram

Congress MP Rajiv Shukla and Tourism Minister Ambika Soni today condemned the detention of Mr. L. Arumugam Chinnaswamy from Karangambaddi in Los Angeles International Airport. Mr. L. Arumugam Chinnaswamy was on his way to visit his half-Russian daughter, Lavulita Muruganakovsky Chinnaswamy, a Grade C student who was pursuing a double degree from both Yale and Harvard.

According to official sources, Mr. L. Arumugam Chinnaswamy's first initial, L, flashed repeatedly on a computer which was connected to the U.S. Immigration database. The computer apparently flagged the 'L' as a known terrorist suspect, sounded a faint warning beep, and promptly shut down.

Valiant attempts to resuscitate the aforementioned computer failed. Mr. L. Arumugam Chinnaswamy was then whisked away to an air-conditioned detention room. Home Minister P. Chidambram Monday said the Americans had 'overdone it' by detaining Mr. L. Arumugam Chinnaswamy in a room with only one air-conditioner and not two.

"Had it two air-conditioners or even one-and-a-half, one can understand it. But one fails to understand how could they hold him in a room with only ONE air-conditioner!" exclaimed Chidambaram, yelling to reporters on the sidelines of a an emergency meet of the state chief ministers and the police chiefs on the internal security scenario due to the fall-out between Rajinikant and Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan & various other Khans who think they can't.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel Sunday said that the government will take up the issue with the US government at its highest level. "I feel it is my duty, as Civil Aviation minister, to protect our Indian citizens from these absolutely unnecessary security measures. I will NOT sit or stand our fellow men and women suffering at the hands of those hot-headed American BRUTAL fellows!!", he screamed at BBC reporters, before turning purple.

Recently deceased Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger separatist rebel (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the cult-like figure who led the Tigers for decades before being shot dead by Sri Lankan forces in May, also condemed the incident.



Bollywood-Asian-American News Service

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

K10JobTips

I've been getting SMS's from 567673434. I remember telling Hutch/Vodafone to stop sending me these messages and to stop giving me those calls which start off in loud pre-recorded "attractive" Kannada voices. But I feel I may be to blame for this set of messages - I wrote my number down at the entrance of a rock fest a few weeks ago. Should have known. Blah.

Anyway, the message..

Let the questions be completed then think and then speak the answers.
*Brought to you by SMSGupShup.com*

Hahahahahahaha..!! As irritated as I am to receive unsolicited messages, I couldn't help but grin at this one.

For the benefit of my fellow Yeendians, please to be wobaying dee yabow.

Hehe..

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Come on Bangalore!

It's been raining very heavily the past few days. Roads which are relatively new are flooded, causing traffic jams for kilometers. Bangalore doesn't look or feel like an I.T. city. It's more a cloud of chaos.

I received an SMS from Hutch earlier:

Message from Bangalore City Traffic Police :: Heavy rains have resulted in traffic congestion. Please use the roads only if it is very necessary.

They HAD to send this out to everyone.

In Bangalore, "necessary" means shopping malls, the movies, fancy restaurants and nightclubs.

They're hoping that "very necessary" drives the message home.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Ain't no limit to greed

Did I mention that I work part-time in a 'BPO Training' center? Well, I do. Every weekday from 7am to 9am. A batch lasts 45 days. I started my first class of my first batch on the 5th April. It's the 21st May. I should have had my last class on Friday, but I didn't. 2 reasons for this - poor attendance by the students, and students joining the course late. And I mean LATE. I had 2 new students join today. THAT'S how late.

When students join is not my business; it's the manager's. Chitra, for a very obvious reason, promises new students a course of 45 days, and dumps them in my ongoing class. What am I supposed to do - start all over for the newbies, or carry on and allow the unfair treatment of being behind the others?

Chitra should think about these things. Throughout the course, I've had students join practically every week. I've somehow managed, despite it being very difficult to teach English to a very irregular batch; both in terms of attendance AND level of fluency. I have students who are alright, but don't speak out of fear or (I hope) shyness. I also have students in the same class who have NEVER studied ANYthing in English except the language itself (as a subject in school). These students have difficulty constructing a short simple sentence. I have students who don't read in English. They say they do but if you are a teacher, you will always know. I have students who think English Theory is the best way to go. Watching, listening, reading, paying attention to correct English is not going to help them, they think. I have stressed from Day 1 on the importance of reading.

The variety of levels of my students aside, Chitra dumping students in my class whenever she feels like is not helping. I told the 2 new students today that more than a month had passed, and they were surprised! Chitra told them TEN DAYS have passed. I told them it is not 10 days, but 40 days. Understandably, they were upset, and wanted to speak to Chitra right away. I agreed with them, saying that I do NOT have a problem with them sitting in my class, but I do have a problem covering all topics for all students whenever they join.

The only reason I see why Chitra does this is money. She could ask them to wait for the next batch to start, or recruit more teachers and start off immediately, but she doesn't. Why?

Telling students to wait for the next batch might make them look for other centers which would offer a course that starts immediately. Loss of customers.

Recruiting more teachers means paying more salaries. I'm cheap [salary-wise]. Right now, I don't charge any fees, because I see this batch as practice for me as well. She probably wants to squeeze as many students as she can under me.

Bottomline, money. Nothing wrong with wanting to make some, but everything wrong with trying to make some while misleading customers.

This isn't unique to this center, business, area, or city. It's everywhere. It's in Malaysia, but you come across this attitude rarely. It's in Brunei, again, rarely. Come to India, and you'll find that you rarely come across an honest businessman.

Argue away! Say that that's how business is done; and that no one is going to succeed without playing the part of a crook. Yeah right, I say. I've seen businesses thrive without your 'required' acts of dishonesty. You would stoop to any level to gain. I rather stand and gain customers' trust and confidence. And despite how you may disagree or what you think.. I win.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Refused a plastic bag

I got caught in the rain this evening. Totally unexpected. It was nice & hot in the day, and I thought it was alright to walk home from work.

It would have have been a different story if I had walked home from work without going anywhere else. But I did. I had 36 rupees left, and I wanted to buy 'pal-gova' (sweets made from milk) for Dahlia. She loves them, and I had tasted these at the place where I buy lunch.

I went to Karthik Sweets, and asked him how much I could get for 36 rupees. He said '200 grams'. I said, "Alright, give me 200 grams".

"Why would I need money? I'm walking home anyway".

I paid for the sweets and proceeded on my way (without a paise). I was approaching the overhead bridge on 100ft. Road, when it started drizzling. I made some calculations and thought I would make it at least to Irene's place. But then, I didn't want to impose, i.e. I didn't feel completely comfortable. I upped my pace but the rain beat me in that aspect, and within a minute, it was raining VERY heavily. One of those heavy sudden summer rains.

"Alright", I thought. Nevermind me getting wet, my books shouldn't. I'd get a plastic bag from that shop I see, and use it to cover my books. I approached the shop, and as you can expect, it was crowded at the counter (with people taking shelter from the rain). There were some customers, of course. Let me describe the shop first.

It was a corner-shop, meaning it has 2 counters - one facing the main road where I was, and one facing the side-street perpendicular to the main. It's a typical corner store, with counters on both sides, and a narrow passage somewhere for the workers to go through. Customers not allowed. We stand outside, and the shopkeepers hand products and take money over the counter. You probably know what I'm talking about.

Coming back to our story, the main counter was crowded. It was also manned by a serious-looking man with a moustache. I peeked over the counter and saw that the side counter was manned by a kid. "I'll have a better chance of getting a plastic bag from the kid", I thought. And so I made my way to the side counter.

Unfortunately for me, the kid suddenly became busy with something else, and I eventually was noticed by Moustache-man. He came to me and I asked him for a plastic bag to cover my books; and I showed him the books I was carrying. He raised a finger, to indicate one, and I said "Yes, one is enough". He took a white plastic bag and handed it to me. I was about to slip my books into the bag when he showed me his index finger again, but this time with the words "One rupee".

I told him, "I don't have any money". He reached out for the plastic bag and took it away.

Yes, my first reaction was that of disbelief. My second was of disgust. My third was to walk away and look for other shelter (not his shop). My points to note :

First, his defence..

1. I wouldn't blame him for not believing that I didn't have any money. I mean that is something you hardly come across. Even beggars have money! But he didn't know what I did prior to approaching him, so no surprise. He probably thought I was lying.

Now, his prosecution..

1. A plastic bag does not cost more than 10 paise. That's one-tenth of a rupee. But he probably would have incurred huge losses if he gave me the bag for free.

2. My sister and I have been taught for as long as we can remember, to respect books. If we don't want a book, we don't destroy/mutilate it; we give it away (in our case, we usually keep it anyway). But this incident was enough to tell me that not necessarily everyone, even here in "reverance-zealous" India, respects books.

3. Whatever happened to plain kindness?

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Derelictness..

No, my English isn't THAT strong, to have come up with this word. :P A quick search on dictionary.com gave me the word I was looking for.

It's the 8th of February today. My ex-colleagues got their salary last Thursday (1st Feb). I checked my account, but didn't see it. I called Sapna (HR of Clearwater), and she said they usually deposit the check (of employees who have left) on the 1st. So, she said, I should have my salary the day after.

I gave them til Saturday. Nothing in my account.

Monday. Cauvery River verdict. Bangalore was being cautious; will there be problems? Protests? Vandalism? No one could say, and everyone stayed home, schools closed early, Dahlia was sent back home early (and she was told there would be no work on Tuesday).

But the verdict was given in the afternoon. Not in the morning. Checked my account. Nothing. Called Clearwater. Accounts guy Shivaram said that Huvappa (the office boy) had been in his hometown and thus, "no one to bring the check to the bank". "Would be done tomorrow".

Is Huvappa the new Assistant Director of Finance? :D

Tuesday. Didn't bother checking, as there was an unofficial strike in Bangalore. Our area was alright, but you could sense that things weren't completely normal.

Wednesday. Found that a "bandh" was scheduled for Monday. Was busy with packing and moving to a new place. Didn't check my account.

Thursday (today). Unpacked a few bags and showered. Checked my account. Nothing. I called Clearwater.

A lady answered. I asked to speak to Shivaram. Shivaram came on the line and started off with his "How aar yuuuu?". This time, I wasn't interested in "chatting". Told him I just checked my account, and didn't see the salary.

He said it was because of the "bandh".

I said, there was NO bandh; the bandh is on Monday.

He then said the banks weren't processing on Monday or Tuesday.

I asked him " What about Wednesday?".

He said "We'll deposit it today".

I asked him "You mean to tell me that my check is still in the office?".

"Yes, it's in the office".

"Why didn't you deposit my check?".

"Why should I go to deposit your check? [with a laugh]".

That did it for me. He went on to say if I wanted my check, I should come and get it. I hung up on him (while he was talking), and called Shashi (Manager).

I told Shashi my ex-colleagues got their salary last Thursday. He told me they have a procedure of issuing checks for ex-employees. I said that's fine, but Sapna told me that would be deposited last Friday. He asked me if anyone from the office called me to collect it. I said no, and that if someone had, I would have gone. He said, give me 2 minutes, and hung up.

3 minutes later, he called me. He said he was extremely sorry, and that the Accounts Department had messed up. Oh, and that this was embarrassing for him. I told him it wasn't really a problem, but if things had been clearer, I would have acted accordingly [like go get the check myself]. He apologized again, and said it should be in my account by tomorrow night.

What made me want to write about this? Shivaram's response and tone of voice when he did. And that laugh.

This just reminded me of the "I have the power, you don't. So you better do things my way" attitude which you see in government officials here. You see it in cops, traffic police and the FRO. You see it in people who are at an advantage, and more often in people who have something which others want/need.

I need my check. Shivaram has my check. If they had told me on Thursday to collect it, I would have. They didn't. No one did. Not even Shivaram. Instead, he played 'God' with my check i.e. choosing not to inform me, update me, or give me my options. He knew he could delay it as long as he wanted. And above all, he knew I wouldn't be able to do a thing about it. I could only "request" him until he felt satisfied or sorry for me.

I don't know if Shashi scolded him. I don't know if Shashi sweet-talked him. I don't care. I know Shashi isn't really that sorry, because it took him 5 months (yes, FIVE) to give us our overtime, after promising to give it 10 days after the end of the month. Our pushing and prodding didn't help speed the process up at all.

That's how my ex-company was.

I'm not sorry to say that's how most of India is.

Pity, really.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Why bother? Why care?

I went to a show called 'Sunday Jam' last night. It's a gathering of bands who sign up for free to play 2-3 songs on stage. Good for exposure, good for gathering experience of playing on stage. There's nothing like playing in front of an audience. Quite a thrill.

You can learn more about 'Sunday Jam' on the 'Freedom Jam' website.

When we arrived, a band called 'Ek' were playing Hindi songs. I don't understand Hindi, but I enjoyed the songs. They were good, and the audience liked them. We had 'Altered Scales', with a drummer who played a very good drum solo in the middle of an improvisational jam. What was amazing was that he must have been at least 60!

The incident begins when Melizma is on stage. They were a trio which played melodic metal. A minute into their 3rd song, I heard a yell behind me. Not surprising, because lots of people were shouting and whistling. But this sounded different, and I turned around to see, not 5 feet from me, a guy on the ground, all curled up. At first, no one knew what happened, and no one reacted. It took us a good 10 seconds before realizing this guy was NOT play-acting, drunk, or high on weed. Santhosh (a former colleague and friend) was apparently with him, along with 4 others. He and I approached this guy. I was just plain scared; I had no idea what happened. Then we saw it.. the shaking, the clenched fists, and the foaming of the mouth. He was having the fits.

A crowd quickly formed around us. Santhosh was trying to keep his friend down. Sushanto gave me his bike keys, and I took my house keys out, and passed them to Santhosh, to place in his hand. Somebody in the crowd took his sandal off and held it to the guy's nose. Gopal (the organizer) was there and asked what that was for. The man replied, "For the leather". Apparently, the smell of leather is supposed to help suppress fits.

Lots of people had gathered by now, and the guy wasn't shaking so much. Melizma was still playing, despite knowing something wasn't right - we were right in front of them. Siddarth came to the mic and asked if there was a doctor in the audience, and that someone needed medical treatment. 2 elderly ladies appeared and asked to push him over to his side. This was suggested to us by a kid nearby, but they didn't listen to him then. Someone started getting a car ready to take him to the hospital. The poor guy had gone all limp.

Eventually, his friends (including Santhosh) brought his to the hospital. The crowd dispersed, and we got back to watching the rest of the show. But my mind wasn't on the show anymore. Why?

ONE..

I had given Sushanto's bike keys to Santhosh, but not got them back. I called him, and asked him to check his pockets, and his friends to check their pockets, but he said no, the keys weren't with them.

Later in the evening, I approached Gopal, and asked him to help me make an annoucement to see if anyone had the keys. It turned out that someone gave them too Siddarth, because Gopal came bouncing up to us with a smile and handed us the keys. Whew.. Take about relief!

TWO..

I have learnt to accept the ugly fact that many Indians here simply do NOT care about anything but themselves. This is everywhere, all over the world, but I can TELL YOU that I've not seen it more anywhere else. Take littering for example. People here will think NOTHING of throwing their rubbish in public - out of a car window, onto the floor of a bus or train, on the road, in schools, workplaces, ANYwhere. Anywhere but their home. We Indians are especially particular about personal hygiene and cleanliness. We have to wash our butts; toilet paper won't do. Maybe it's the climate, but we feel the need to bath quite often. We would NEVER spit inside our house, but we won't think twice about that on the streets. We keep our homes nice and clean, but couldn't care less about how it looks outside. As long as he/she is fine, healthy, comfortable and satisfied, there is absolutely NO need to bother about what happens around them. They don't have to care about the consequences of their actions if it doesn't affect them directly (or immediately).

Every man for himself.

Selfish.

What made me think of all this? This lack of care for others? Indians are said to be hospitable people, but then I wouldn't let that get to their heads. EVERY country has hospitable people when viewed from a foreigner's perspective. But of course! Why would you want to show your true (ugly) self when you stand a chance to make a good impression, AND on a foreigner??? After all, we all know it's not difficult to maintain a 'good' image for a short time, and we don't usually interact with foreigners for very long.

I find the Indian-white people relationship very interesting, and I will write about this on a future post.

Melizma, the band. They kept on playing while this guy lay on the ground, shaking from the fits. I don't know much about fits, but I do know anything could trigger it. I will not be wrong in saying that the extremely LOUD volume 'may' have triggered this. We were, after all, sitting right in front of huge amplifiers.

Regardless of what the cause was, I think it would only have been sensible to stop playing. All through the commotion of tending to this man, we had to put up with loud, loud music. Melizma can say what they like. I'll say, "It did NOT help".

I've always thought good of Siddarth, being a funny fellow that he is. But I was disappointed to see that he did not stop them from playing; even when he did try to call attention to us over the loud music.

And last but not least, our dear sound engineers who were sitting RIGHT BEHIND us, i.e. the incident took place right in front of them, in front of their mixer-desk. They could have reduced the overall volume, not cut it, if the amateur performance was so important.

Overall, a lack of compassion. Melizma must have been at a risk of losing millions if they stopped playing, being as professional as they are. Or perhaps, they imagined themselves in Woodstock, so people collapsing on the ground wasn't really a big deal. A pat on the back for Siddarth for putting the continuity of his Sunday Jam show before everything else. Why spoil the performance for some guy who collapsed, right?

Perhaps this is how things are. How they are. Everywhere, everyday, we see it. Take a walk outside for half an hour and you see it. But I've also learnt something else. There is no pointing this out, protesting, asking why this happens, or trying to convince them that things could be done a better way. Most people were born here, they grew up here, spent most or all of their lives here. Saying they are used to it would be incorrect. They see this as THE WAY to go about life. Every action which jumps out at me, which just spells 'wrong' is perfectly normal, acceptable and unquestionable for locals.

No, I am not ungrateful, or one who's constantly complaining about these things. I am Indian, and my family is here. I have spent the last 6 years of my life here. I started my working life here. We are progressing rapidly, no doubt about that - this IT company, that BPO, software, garments, food, tourism, industries.. You name it, we have it, and we're growing. Attitudes remain the same. If anyone asks why we aren't growing as much as we should, this is why. If anyone asks why companies are looking for other places to set up shop, this is why. If anyone asks why we face so many questions when applying for a normal tourist visa to most countries, this is why.

I am not generalizing this onto the Indian people. I can't and won't do that because I do know some wonderful people here in India. Some are neighbours, some colleagues and even some shopkeepers. :-)

This blog is meant to be a channel for me to say what I think about what I see here. That's all.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Barbara said...

Good words.

10:36 am  

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Happy New Year?

I spent my New Year's Eve and New Year jamming with a new-found friend. He's crazy about music, so we spent both days, all days, jamming. It felt good to play after so long, and it gave me a sense of satisfaction, knowing I had 'opened' the New Year doing what I love.

And that's how I prefer it. Quiet. I don't see why people have to go dancing in the streets. I don't see why they HAVE to wish every stranger they see. I don't see why they have to yell 'Happy New Year' to television cameras while riding in 4's on a bike. I don't see why drinking becomes the point of the entire night, when it only makes sense to be sober to 'enjoy' the celebrations anyway.

That's for the world.

Now India.

This 'New Year' thing, just like 'Valentine's Day', 'Father's Day', 'Mother's Day' and 'what-not' day is new. We see huge media coverage and an equally huge build-up a month before the day. We see stores offering discounts, although this makes some sense (clearing stock before the end of the year, etc). And yet, this is all fairly new. I'm trying to go back 10 years, trying to remember the New Year 'celebrations', and I can't recall anything even remotely similar. People greeted the New Year the way they would any other day. Our wonderful friends from the West, and even more friends from cable TV brought the 'Let's get wild on New Year's Eve' idea over, and we Indians, being as awed as we are of anything 'white', swallowed the whole thing with gusto. The result? Our celebrations can match (maybe not the grandeur), but the intensity of any other city around the world.

I came in to work on the 2nd, and lost count of the number of people shaking my hand and saying 'Happy New Year'. What's so happy about it? Take India first. The poor are still as poor as they were on the 31st of December. Our politicians are as corrupt, if not more so. And the world? Iraqis must be having a beautiful New Year. We mustn't forget to wish the mothers whose sons 'disappeared'. We mustn't forget to wish the children who lost their family. It must be a FABULOUS New Year for them.

It's sad. Anyone who goes around wishing the other without reason does so without any thought. If a New Year is supposed to bring us some change for the better, starting it off as blindly as we do today doesn't offer us much hope.

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