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Che begaam az dasteh tu, ay roozegaar
Be tu che mereseh az shekasti mann?

– (Dilkhushi) Omid

Yesterday was an excellent day! It was the opening ceremony for ‘Hope House’ (orphanage). I was asked to present a speech and co-host the event. I was more than happy. I arrived there hours before the commencement of the ceremony and wrote up my speech, jotting down notes and scribbling. A lot of effort had been put in.

When it was my turn to speak, i surprised myself! I cried! :S Halfway through my speech i couldn’t help it! Cameras, guests from Australia- everyone was looking and here i was in tears.
But over all, the event was a great success.

As I was trying to get through the crowd of men to go inside, Raymond Nelson (Deputy for Mahbobas Promise) offered me a seat next to him. I didn’t want to refuse because that would be too rude! We exchanged views on Afghanistan, Australia and other ideas. A few moments later, a young guy sitting on the other side of Raymond conversed with me in Dari. Basically, I explained why i was here, my hopes and what i want to do. I realised that the whole table and the one next to us stopped to listen to our conversation. All of them AFGHAN MEN.

All credit goes to the helpers at Mahbobas Promise, the children and most importantly- the man behind the scenes Kaka Sidiq.

I will post my speech- (which everyone thought was excellent!) i reckon it’s crap!

Oh another thing i did was absolutely pathetic with my broken Dari was TRANSLATE Raymonds speech. Oh my god, how embarrasing! Everyone else thought it was ‘cute’ *raises an eyebrow*

Also Naqshbandi has been killed. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Ummm… other issues… Johnny Boy (PM John Howard) has sent more Aussie troops to Afghanistan. 450 of ’em. What is the point? Seriously! I visited Maidan (mum’s hometown) and a city where it’s filled with Taliban supporters. You’d expect to see the place filled with ISAF troops. but nope, the only troops there were at the entrance to the city and that’s it! Once we went in, no police, no security- nothing! Anything was possible! This is where the Taliban regroup! I guess I have exceeded CIA’s intelligence. WOHOOO..hahaha

Taleban kill Afghanistan reporter –BBC News

The Taleban in Afghanistan have killed an Afghan reporter abducted last month with an Italian journalist. The group said it had killed Ajmal Naqshbandi because the government had refused to meet its demands to release senior figures from prison.
Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo was released after five Taleban members were freed in exchange. The driver, Sayed Agha, was beheaded last month.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has condemned Mr Naqshbandi’s killing.
The two reporters and their driver were captured on 6 March in Helmand province.
Shohaabuddin Atal, a spokesman for Taleban commander Mullah Dadullah, said: “We killed Ajmal today because the government did not respond to our demands.”
Italian deal The Afghan government’s intelligence services spokesman, Saeed Ansari, confirmed Mr Naqshbandi had been killed.

Mr Mastrogiacomo was freed in an exchange with Taleban prisoners Tom Koenigs, UN special envoy to Afghanistan, said: “I condemn this senseless murder unreservedly and call on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice.”
In Italy, Mr Prodi said he “learned with anguish” of Mr Naqshbandi’s death. “We strongly condemn this absurd crime,” he said.

Ajmal Naqshbandi worked as a guide and translator for visiting foreign
reporters. He was abducted with Mr Mastrogiacomo and their driver at a
Taleban checkpoint and originally accused of spying for the British army.
The reporters’ driver was beheaded to put pressure on negotiations for their
release.
The BBC’s Mark Dummett in Kabul says after intense lobbying from
the Italians, a deal was done. Five Taleban were allowed to go and Mr
Mastrogiacomo was set free. Our correspondent says there was outrage in
Afghanistan that the government would firstly bow to its enemy’s demands and
secondly that it would save a foreigner but not an Afghan.

The Taleban are still holding five government medics and two French aid workers along with three Afghan colleagues. Their fate will be decided next, they say.
President Hamid Karzai has ruled out any more hostage deals with the Taleban.
“[Mr Mastrogiacomo] was an extraordinary situation and won’t be repeated again,” Mr Karzai said on Friday. “No more deals with no-one and with no other country.”

Are you kiding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

Another odd case- Female Iraqi suicide bomber! Daym…

This world is becoming a crazy place……. as if you didn’t know that already!

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar.

PS I am starting work very soon…

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Belated entries

Sister ‘S’ is getting engaged!
Tuesday 3rd April 2006

I haven’t been able to enter any blog entries (poor internet services) so here I am typing it on Microsoft word hoping for a miracle to take place and ta-da internet is connected. YEAH RIGHT!

Once again, I managed to wield my way out of marriage. Tehehehe. But for how long? Never mind, I’ll tackle the proposals one at a time.
In the meantime however, my gorgeous sister S is getting engaged. Yay! She said ‘yes’ to the proposal so basically the pre-wedding procedure happens in three steps (thanks to Mama Haji- dads uncle, for explaining).
Firstly, you have the lafz stage -parental approval of the wedding. It basically involves the parents of both the potential bride and groom to sort out any discrepancies privately and at the same time agree to the engagement. Brides family hands sweets and chocolate to the grooms family. I wish I was told this three years ago! I thought lafz was publicised for EVERYONE. Where the hell was my lifeline when I needed it? Damn it.

Secondly, this is publicised by the shirnee daadan process where the entire world is given the news (okay fine- I exaggerated, not the entire world! Just the afghans which means that news will travel at the speed of light and eventually the entire planet is bound to find out). In all seriousness, this stage hasn’t arrived yet. So I really don’t have a clue what happens.

Thirdly, is the engagement party. Self explanatory, really.

So yeah, tomorrow is the lafz. End of topic, it’s boring me already.

Yesterday we had coffee at Kabul City Centre. I felt like I was in Australia. the shopping cenre, the social atmosphere (it was around 4pm so all the business executives and ‘normal’ people had gathered) it felt like home. I think I found my haven when/if Kabul gets too much for me.

I also bough a huge afghan flag from the famous tourist place- Chicken Street (aka koochayeh morgha).Why? I don’t know. Patriotism. Hehe.
There was another shop with long elegant coats made of mink or wolf skin, cat skin, rabbit- you name it! Animal rights issues aside, they were beautiful. They only cost $500AU for the best in stock. It also comes with fur hats. Elite, classy, stylish.

The best part of today was Chelsea Supermarket. Everything is imported so they’re good quality stuff. I’m talking Cadbury chocolate, Ferrero Rocher, genuine designer perfumes, shampoos etc. Woolies has come to Kabul, YAY! I was so relieved. It’s pricey but who cares, it’s the closest thing to Woolworths.

Oh yeah, we bought a house. Finally! I’ve been living from a suitcase for the past three months. Argh!As I was saying, it’s a huge house. Twenty three rooms, five bathrooms and it’s four-five storeys high. Mashaallah! It was around US$260 000 (roughly 24 million Afghanis). The first thought that came to my head when I heard of the price was ‘imagine how many people that would feed?’

I have a job interview tomorrow. Found out in a very strange way. we were in the car, heading to Kabul City Centre today when a white 4WD with United Nations plates stopped on the side of the road. One of the men signalled for us to pull over. I thought it was trouble. He came over to my window and started talking to me. I had no idea who he was until my brother mentioned his name. he had recognised me (I had been to his office a while ago). He told me to call him later in the day and he’ll notify me abuo the job interview. How very odd! Called him, am due for an interview tomorrow at 1pm.

Returned home to realised that S needs jewelry and shoes to go with the dress. So we went shopping again. Walking to the shops, I noticed a black 4WD slowing down next to us with tinted windows. The guy inside was full on looking. ‘omg is that bejaan?’ the afghan rapper! My sister had a blank look on her face. The guys standing a few metres away from us caused a quick commotion ‘ohooo bejan jaaneh kunduzi’. That confirmed it! It WAS him. Anyways, we went on doing our shopping- we promised dad we’d be home before dark.

Erm.. I’m really very tired. Will write some more later. Dodgy internet.

OMG earthquaaake…

I just felt the ground shake like crazy. I woke Bro S and T, we started freaking out saying we should run downstairs. But outside everyone was pretty normal as if they didn’t feel it. Like it happens in horror movies- you sense stuff no one else can. But yeah, it was the first time something like that happened. Its over now.

Okay right now it’s 8.15am 4 April, I’m in bed. Still no internet connection, I’m tired as but cant sleep, work must be done. I’ve been up since 6am- todays S’s lafz ceremony. Lafz was given. Our driver came at 12pm to pick us up, stopped by at Kabul City Centre (shopping centre) picked up S’s dress (indian stuff). The guy that served us is so nice, he got the dress tailored to fit my sister and he bought my brother anti-acne cream.

Anyways, then we went to my job interview. I was escorted by W to the conference room where I waited for a while. One of the other workers was passing by, he stopped over to say hello and wished me luck for the interview. Interview went extremely well, was interviewed by a german who immediately picked up my Australian accent. She said I was a ‘fantastic candidate’ because of my business expertise and academic studies. She’ll get back to me within a week.

Next stop: mama Haji’s house for the lafz ceremony. I was running late- it was 2pm and people were due at 3pm. And S was asleep when I went in. took her to the salon, did her grooming. Went back, she got dressed. Went in to say hello to the guests. Lafz took place. Presents were distributed- the only recipient was S. she got gold, American dollars and more gold. eventually, they all left.

That was that.

Ba omideh deedaar khuda negahdaar!

Kabul Coffee House

Hezar ranjo aatash o gham..naamash ishq
Hezar dardo gham wa balaah.. naamash yaar
-Rumi

My new hang out place. Went there today for another job interview, atmosphere is so cosy and comfortable. Mainly for foreigners, the only afghans there were the waiters. Dad and I had a pretty long wait, an hour. We had coffee- my first in Afghanistan. Interview went well, got offered a job as a ‘civic development’ lecturer at Kabul University. But my only concern is I HATE TEACHING. But I’ll give it a go-I want to make maximum use of myself, I’m considering working 8am-4pm at my other office (if I get the job) and 4pm-7pm at the university. Hmmm….

Until next time…
Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar.

PS My internet should be connected tomorrow. Oh yeah, got news today- grandparents are flying over from Australia within a matter of weeks. Spoke to my paternal grand dad, man was he happy to hear that S is engaged. Cant wait til he comes. My maternal grandma also arrived from Paki land today.

Not again?! Another suicide blast

Mr Suicide bomber detonated himself this morning at Darulaman, Kabul. He killed 4 instantly, one died on his way to the hospital and 5 were injured.

Left Kabul for the first time. We went to Maidan- mum’s hometown. Grandma wanted to take Nawroozi for her soon to be daughter in law (currently engaged to my uncle). A few days ago there was a crossfire between Taliban fighters and ISAF troops in Maidan. Basically, the city is full of Taliban sympathisers who are truly dedicated to their cause.

We had to cross a river through the water (bridge had collapsed due to floods a few days back). Thankfully it was a 4WD. it was an hours drive, not a nice scene at all (surprisingly!). Compared to Jalalabad and Laghman, it was very dry, plain and flat.

At my mums-brothers- in-laws place, everything was predictable. We had lunch, ladies sang around a dayra. Some ladies got up and danced while others clapped and sang along. Mum told me to dance, I told her I didn’t want to in a subtle way. She kept insisting- literally pulling me by the hand. Jesus Christ!! I don’t want to dance, just want to sit and watch- which part of that don’t they understand? Spent the whole time counting the minutes (our driver instructed us to leave at 4.30pm at the latest due to insecurity along the way). Mum and grandma ended up staying a bit longer- great, more boredom for me! Everything was in Pashto.

Finally, it was time to leave. I said my goodbyes quickly and left for the car taking the front seat. Yay! It meant hearing more jihadi stories from our driver. He told me stories about how he had fought in Maidan for one and a half years during the Soviet invasion and pointed out their tracks through the mountains which they travelled by foot.

Still no internet- DODGY AFGHAN TELECOM! Typing this on Microsoft Word. It was supposed to be connected yesterday!

There’s an engagement party tomorrow at 9am (what the?). Doubt I’ll go! I need to find a job… there’s nothing else to do here. They must have emailed me- but I got no net!

ARGH! I’m going to sign out because I’m getting F R U S T R A T E D.

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar.

Untitled
Saturday 7th April

She takes burdened steps into her new life
Her heart cries, her eyes weep
My heart had always wanted you, only you
The wounds you left me with only adds to my beauty
Like the scarred moon…
– Devdas

Ajmal Naqshbandi is still detained with the scruffy Talibans! They have issued an ultimatum which declares for the afghan government to meet their requirements by Monday otherwise they will execute Naqshbandi. I’m dying to find out more, but everything is in Dari (or even worst, Pashto!) and I still have no net. So dodgy!

The song from Devdas came on TV. I’m not a fan of indian movies but I fell in love with ‘Devdas’ when I watched it. It’s truly a classic! Anyways, the song is from the scene where it’s Parvatis final moments with her beloved Devdas before being taken away to her new husband, whom she doesn’t love. It’s all very powerful and emotional.

S and older R went to the engagement party with my grandma and yes, it was at 9am. I stayed home with mum, cooked and helped with the chores (which I HATE). Had to get some groceries for mum so I went with lil R to the shops near our place. I dread passing groups of eyes, I can feel them staring as if they have never seen girls in their entire life. or maybe it’s because they can tell we’re from ‘khaarij’ (referring to the west). as I was walking past I heard two boys talking loudly enough for me to hear, the conversation went something like this:

Guy 1- these girls are from the same place as you are
Guy 2- oh really? From Canada? Where do they live?

I didn’t hear the rest but at this point I just watned to turn around and blast them off verbally. Instead I continued walking, if I had done that- they would have taken it as though I have lead them on. YEAH RIGHT! Wishful thinking!

Rest of the day was spent serving tea, lunch, dinner, tea, tea and more tea. One of dads relatives came over proposing for his son- NOT INTERESTED, MATE! My sisters in laws came over- they came over with sweets and bought her a chunky solid gold bracelet (typical Afghan gift). We too gave them gifts.

I’m getting extremely aggravated with the dodgy internet services here. By the way, water has stopped running but electricity has been good to us. You don’t realise it, but without electricity life is dull. When the power used to return after a day of no electricity my sisters and I would jump for joy yelling, ‘YAY ELECTRICITY IS BACK!’ as if it’s a truck load of chocolates. Believe me, it’s more than that. Imagine life without electricity!

I’m looking forward to tomorrow- I’ll be seeing Kaka Sidiq at the orphanage. Bliss!

Until then…

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar!

Dreamy mood
Sunday 8 April 2007

Az roozeh ke tu rafti pareedeh rangeh shaadi.
Amma khursheed metaabeh mesleh yek roozi aadih
Chetoor haanoz parandeh daareh havayeh parwaaz
Magar khabar nadaran tu rafti az kenaram
Chera baret nagoftan bi tu che haaleh daaram.
Ba chashme khastayeh mann, Asemoon az sang shudeh.
La’nat ba een tanhayee, dilam barat tang shudeh

-Tanhayee (Persian song)

Baran mebaarad emshaab, dilam gham daarad emshaab
Araameh jaaneh khasteh ra mesparam emshab
Qatreh qatreh ashkeh chashmam mechakeh ba nam nammeh baraan

Rangeh chashmat rangeh darya seenayeh mann dashteh ghamha
Yaadem ayad zeereh baraan baa tu boodam, zireh baraan baa tu tanha
Zeereh baraan gerya kardam, bal ke barran shoyad goonah az jaanem.

– Baraan (Omid)

Emshab mikhaam mast beshaam,
Een jaaneh naqabeleh hast, hezar fadayeh tu besheh
Beyofteh zeereh qadam haat, ke khaakeh paayetu besheh

Kohneh sharaab, kohneh sharaab emshab baal o param bedi
Emshab mekham harf bezanam khandeh konam geryeh konam
Lutfee konn saaqi emshab chand barabaram bedi

Emshab parr o baal daram, shoor daram haal daram
– Omid

mmmmm..ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar…

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I am who I am- the best of two cultures held high by the universal religion, Islam!

I finally managed to get that assignment done… yay! Submitted it online last night.Nothing major today, spent the day indoors again. Didn’t study at all, my brains suffering from information overload at the moment thanks to my essay. Have to hit the books again tomorrow.

It’s 12.30am and TV is on (Tolo channel, of course). All else is asleep like the rest of Afghanistan. Ahmad Zahir just came on ‘bakhuda tang ast dilam, tang ast dilam, tang ast dilam’ (one of my favourite songs).

Sayaf’s house was raided today by Coalition forces in search of weapons and ammunition. It’s funny considering he’s an MP and a representative of the Karzai gov’t. (I won’t delve into politics! Too sleepy…)

Got nothing else to say.

I had a dream last night, all my friends were graduating university… but me! *sigh*

Oh yeah, A.A asked me today ‘what about Australia?’ Mate, I still call Australia home. If it weren’t for Australia, I wouldn’t be here today. I appreciate everything Australia has given me and it will always be my home for as long as it welcomes me. The bond that my parents have with Afghanistan, I guess I have the same bond with Australia. I grew up there, I have lived all my life there. Australia has given me the education and the expertise to help Afghanistan. It would be selfish of me if I didn’t acknowledge that. Right now, I get a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about Australia because I miss it. But Afghanistan is in desparate need of me. Australia will always be my ‘sunburnt country’!

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar.

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Ahmad Zahir. Omid. University essay. Poetry. Books.

I’ve come to accept the sad fact that I have to defer university for another semester or maybe even a year *sniff sniff*. It’s really not fair. Oh well, no point nagging and whingeing. Whats done is done. I’m still doing two units at another uni though, I deferred three units.

What a waste of time, I wanted to finish this semester which is why I did seven units last semester and six the semester before. I feel like such a loser. Basically I spent the whole day chucking a sad about my studies and freaking out. Maybe I shouldn’t have come at all but that wasn’t an option.

Siblings all enrolled at school today. I stayed home.

Not much to do here, this place is tiny (I thought our city was small) but I still don’t know my way around. That’s not good because if I don’t have anything to do-
I get bored!
And when I get bored,
I start missing home and friends!

I was listening to Gokhan Ozen today and it reminded me of my car and driving on the highway. It’s tough out here. I feel like someone’s amputated my arms and legs and I can’t do anything, I don’t know why. It could be because I’m bludging around and not making use of myself- something I’m not used to. I need to find a life since I cant return to my old one.

Excuse the pessimism, I’m presently in a critical disposition so I’ll end it here.

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar.

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OMG! Was that a bomb??

WOOOOH! I heard my first bomb blast today! Sitting with family in the lounge, all of a sudden…BANG! Few seconds later, sirens. Ambulance. And then moments later, black hawks (American military helicopters) hovered above us. I looked out the window, they were flying so low you could almost see their faces.

Day was better since my last blog entry, even though it started off pretty strange. A proposal at 8am *groan* yes, that meant wake up, prepare tea, serve tea, sit and smile as they conversed on. ARGH!!! Spare me.

Finally retrieved my Webct password (i had forgotten it..hehe) Oh my god, it took two months! Now, i’m drowning in final semester university studies in AFGHANISTAN. argh! I’m five weeks behind! Must.start.studying.

Found this poem in my sisters book she was reading, pretty good… i like!

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield but to my own strength.
Let me not crave in ancious fear to be saved but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant me that i may not be a coward,
feeling your mercy in my success alone;
but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.

Rabindranath Tagore
Ahhh.. touching isn’t it? Inspiring i must say..tehehehe..

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‘Mahbobas Promise’

Wrote this a few days ago, but couldn’t be bothered posting it.

Enjoy…

Yesterday i became a witness to the cruel imposition of the Taliban . Children of a disadvantaged ‘war’. An unforgettable experience, almost demoralising.

We visited ‘Mahbobas Promise’- an orphanage accomodating sixty deprived children and a number of widows. Deprived of emotional, educational and basic care which every human being deserves.

From a distance the three storey sanctuary grew larger and larger as we drove closer, the middle aged gatekeeper came out via the side door to check who we were before allowing entry. His stern face broke into a friendly one as a smile spread across his face. Realising who we were, the gates opened as our 4WD made it’s way inside. Little children stood and looked on.

I tried smiling, but i couldn’t. I was frozen. I kept an eye open for Kaka Sidiq ( Khola Mahbobas brother) but the children were much too distracting. The car stopped in the middle of the oval as directed by the orphanage helpers. Curious to explore, i thoughtlessly stepped out of the vehicle into a puddle of mud. My white runners had now turned greenish- brown. For the first time, i didn’t care. There were more important matters awaiting us. I was too ‘hooked up’ with this place already.

A short, young lady with a warm smile welcomed us. A whiteboard marker in her grip, I assumed she was a teacher. Little children looked intently from where they were sitting- a few metres away. The young teacher led the way as we followed her upstairs. I turned around, taking a quick glance at the group of children who stood behind us. Curiously, i followed my family upstairs. I realised that the ‘men’ (incorporating dad, brother and a relative) had already gone to some other room, not sure why.

The answer became known to me as we went upstairs and into the living room where other women accompanied us (segregation due to genders). Mum began conversing, starting off by asking them what position they hold in the orphanage. Gradually, it came to light who they were. Widows of the disadvantaged Taliban ‘war’. Mum, who I say has a heart of rock, seemed close to tears.

One of the widows gave explicit details about the brutal death of her husband. The Taliban had demanded him to release information about the whereabouts of chief Northern Alliance leaders (Ahmad Shah Masood’s party). It was obvious to the Taliban that the man hadn’t information about the party as he wasn’t involved. Just an excuse to beat the poor man. That’s when the torture began. He was hung by his ankles from the ceiling and beaten for two hours consecutively. Finally, he was acquitted. A few days later he died. Unsure, his wife presumed it was internal bleeding. Leaving behind his wife and four children.

Moments later, Kaka Sidiq entered the room, dressed in a black leather coat over a grey jacket and black tailored trousers holding a briefcase in his hand. I stood up in his presence, smiling as we greeted each other. I was delighted to see a familiar face. Kaka Sidiq left his family (including a two month old baby) to serve the orphans of Afghanistan. He looked much younger than when I had seen him in Sydney, Australia a few years ago. Around twenty orphans filled the room quietly, finding a place on the tooshak (mattress). Kaka Sidiq and I continued with the formalities, questioning each other’s welfare, then the family’s welfare etc. Dad joined us a little while later.

Kaka Sidiq asked who wanted to recite a taranah (a poem that is recited in a sing-song tone). They recited wholeheartedly,

‘Mother, where are you? You left an orphan. Mother, you left me in need…’

I couldn’t take it any more! My eyes became too wet to see, I dropped my head and waited for them to finish. Every pair of eyes told a dreadful story, a horrific past.

Some of the children told their stories with no emotion. As if losing a parent was alright. Suddenly, I realised why I was in Kabul. It was for children like them. how could I be so selfish and turn away from these faces. my moral conscience would’nt allow it. Even if I did go back to Australia, I’d be sure to leave something behind and contribute somehitng. A pledge to the poor and needy. I know I’ll face many impediments along the way… what doesn’t kill me can only make me stronger.

Ba omideh deedaar, khuda negahdaar

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Oh mi Gawd, I’m so homesick! i miss Australia.. i miss my life, my home, my car, my job, my uni, my FRIENDS.. list goes on..

….. and on…
…and on…
…and on… 😦

*sigh*

I’m used to routine and discipline.. now everything’s ad hoc! I want to return to my life.

ARGH!

ba omideh deedaar.. ba omideh deedaar.. (i never meant it the way i do now!! BA OMIDEH DEEDAAR) Khuda negahdaar

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