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Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Operation Clean-Up

Life back home was simpler.

Cleaning the house was an easy chore. If you dropped something on the floor, you just grabbed a broom and swept the area clean. If the kids dropped water, you dumped a mop over it and the floor was clean in seconds.  In fact, if the kids dropped something, they knew they had to sweep or mop themselves and went about the task with due diligence 🙂 .

Like I said, life was simpler :).

The apartment we have now is pretty plush. By which I mean that the entire house is carpeted with an inch-thick rug. The fuzzy kind of rug you know which sinks when you walk on it giving you the sensation of walking on air.Unfortunately, the same rug generates gazillion micro-fibres which coat every surface of the house. Initially, I wondered where all the dust came from since the house is packed to prevent the cold air from coming in. Every morning, I would wipe the tables, the TV, the cabinets and by evening you could see the film of dust again. The BF told me about it coming from the rug. Vacuuming every few days became a must (doesn’t mean that I actually vacuum it every other day 😀 . Am still fine with the once a week routine 😛  ).

Cleaning around the house

The other problem with rugs? The horror of dropping fluids on it!

I have two 5-year-olds in the house. You have any idea how on-the-edge I am when these two butter-fingers have their milk or tea? Every other minute I’m jumpy, believing that that they have dropped their paints or bumped against the tea-table which held my tea-cup or simply dropped the bowl of soup!

The other day, Lui puked and I did something I never did before. I caught her puke in my bare hands before it could hit the floor ! (The things these rugs make you do !). Yup, more than why she puked, I was mortified with what would happen if the rug got soiled ! Yeah, call that being a bad mommy, but seriously, I’d rather be a bad mommy for a few seconds than be a mommy who’s down on her knees, scrubbing that damn rug! How much easier it was back home. The kids could puke all over the floor and we just grabbed a mop and cleaned up. *Sigh* (But mostly, we had house-help to do the sweeping and mopping. Days or luxury, right?)

Yesterday, I was talking to the BF on the phone, sprawled over the carpet, giving the newspaper a cursory glance. As I disconnected the call, I noticed a strand of my hair caught on the rug. I tugged it free and immediately noticed another one. I pulled that one too which led to another and then another. Pretty soon, I was once again sprawled over the floor, tugging out a million hair from the rug. Looks like the vacuum simply doesn’t have the suction to pull out the hair. And going by the length of the hair, they were obviously all mine. I seem to be shedding more than a dog on a high sugar diet 😦 . Worst part is, I’ve got only half the house done. Will have to spend today tugging out my hair from the rest of the house !

But with every cloud comes a silver lining! In my case, the dishwasher and the laundromat do the honors of making my life easier. What would I do without them?! The kids can pull out as many clothes as they want, the sink can pile up with as many dishes as possible but my forehead remains as smooth as a baby’s bottom 😀 . Not a single wrinkle of worry can mar my looks 😉

I think I’ve been pretty lazy all these years. Looks like going to office and minding the kids was possibly the ONLY thing I ever did in Pune. For a person who had house-helps all these years, having to do everything at home can be a little trying , sin’t it 😐  ?

Like I said before, life back home was really simpler 😐

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Upside-Down!

Sitting at home has made me experimental.

I was never famous for dishing out delicacies at the drop of a hat but I sure can rustle up something when I’m in the mood (which is usually rare 😀 ) . Regular meals are not a problem, I think I fare pretty well in everyday-dishes.

But.

(There’s always a B-U-T in my posts….I wonder why !! 😐 )

I have a large convection oven and a regular sized microwave at my disposal. Since the day I landed here, the convection oven was calling out to me, begging me to use it. Well, almost! Because I really couldn’t figure out the controls which were rather dated (multiple dials on the dashboard 🙄 ). But (there I go again), since I had plenty of time on my hands and a large basket of oranges too sour to eat, I decided to try my hand at baking an upside-down cake.

Yup!

Egged on by the kids who were tickled at the thought of their mom baking a cake in their presence, I got the ingredients together and started the process. The batter turned out much more than the capacity of my baking dish, so I divided it into two parts. One went into the convection oven and the other went into the microwave. As usual, the microwave cake turned out fluffy and yummy in 3 minutes flat!

As for the convection oven cake…this is what it turned out like :-

Upside-down cake

Upside-down cake

The picture didn’t turn out too good but the cake was devoured by the BF and the twins. They LOVED it 🙂 🙂 🙂

Now don’t ask me for the recipe because I never measure my ingredients. If its too thin, add the flour. If too thick, add milk (in this case, I squeezed a few oranges for a cup of juice. Used that in place of milk). That my motto! And yeah, I add a teaspoon and a half of baking powder irrespective of the amount of flour I use . The cakes turn out fine in each case 😐

Next time around, I’ll try  the pot-roast 😀 (Dream big, I say 😀 )

By the way, I still havent figured out the dials. The convection oven took more than 3 hours with what I think was the timer going off every 30 minutes. I googled a bit for some help but apparently, the oven’s just too old a model 😦 . Doesn’t matter though, I think with enough fidgeting I just might rustle up something good 🙂 .

If I start now, I think I can get baked Penne ready for tomorrow’s breakfast 😀 😀

Gotta go then. Adios amigos 🙂

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I broke the jinx.

For a long while now, I’ve been trying my hand at trying out new dishes at home. I’m not a great cook, just a decent one who can feed people. But there are times, specially around the time Masterchef is aired, that I have this tingling inside me. Though nowhere close to the contestants in terms of skill or knowledge (There was a round where two contestants had to identify certain edible items. I got just 2 right 😦 . I had no clue that stuff like “peepli” or “Thai Dragon fruit” existed 😦 ). Anyhow, back to the topic.

So there I was, trying out pastas and  chicken noodles and rasam, with limited success. Either I ended up eating the whole stuff myself or giving it away to the maid. I suspect she took pity on me and dumped it in the trash bin of her house, knowing well that I was reluctant to throw it in mine 😦 . As for the twins, they usually turned up their noses as soon as the first whiff hit them. Eating my experiments was out of question. They aren’t very aware of the mother-child bond right now, I guess. Probably in another couple or more decades they might understand my plight!!

One fine day, I planned to make brown-bread at home. Checked out a recipe from the internet, God Bless, and set out to do the needful. After 45 minutes of preparation, just as I was ready to dunk myself into the batter of misery (The batter turned out far thinner than expected), I had a “Whoa” moment!! Why the hell hadn’t I tried this out yet?? I was obviously talking about fermented wheat dough, which, instead of being unsuccessfully baked, was ready for another makeover. The Tandoori-Roti!!

So what if I didn’t have a tandoor or coals. I had the tools of 21st century to bail me out, namely, a gas stove and an iron tawa 🙂 (Please ignore the insinuation that the ‘tawa’ belongs to the 21st century!!) . Things looked cheery and bright, except for the batter which was very limp. A big dollop of dry flour quickly sorted that out. Whew 🙄 !!

Anyhow, here’s my recipe for the perfect home-made tandoori roti. Try it at your own risk.

Soak half a teaspoon of dry yeast in warm milk . Add a spoon of sugar . Yeast luuurrrvvve sugar. You miss the sugar, then Mr.Y refuses to rise to the occasion.

Take some wheat flour. Add salt as per taste. Add the warm-milk-infused-with-yeast-and-sugar solution. Add water. Mix. Add more water. Mix. Add dry flour to balance the extra water. Add water to soften the now-toughened dough. Add more flour to get the stickiness out of the way. There, you are either ready with  the dough for the rotis or you are ready to fling the soddy mass at this post. If its the former, read on.

Keep the dough covered for an hour or longer depending on the weather. The end result is that the dough should look twice its original size. Pick up that sticky mass and bash it back into the dish. Repeat a few times to get the dough back to its original size (pretty barmy, if you ask me….whats the point of getting the yeast to blow bubbles inside the dough when you eventually plan to bang them out!  But hey, I didn’t make them rules 😐 ) . Make small balls of the dough.

Heat the tawa on a high flame till its HOT!!. Roll out a small ball of dough using dry flour, in the regular way one does for chapatis. Dip your fingers in a bowl of water and lightly smear the water across the top of the rolled out dough. It will look like this :-

06062013430

Pick up the flattened dough carefully and invert it in such a way that the damp side hits the tawa. The dampness will make the roti cling on to the tawa for its dear life. The yeast will make the dough bubble up like this :-

06062013432

Your roti will look creepy at this stage. More like it caught a pox or something. Ignore. Turn a blind eye to its faults. You will see its true beauty soon enough. Once the bubbling up and subsided, you flex your wrist, check for the carpal-tunnel and when not found, use the tongs to firmly grasp the tawa and flip it upside down over the burner flame. It should look something like this :-

Flipped out

Flipped out

Now this looks easy, but if you do find that carpal-tunnel, its best you leave this activity as a bad joke right now! Don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you 😐

Anyhow, move the tawa around a bit so that the heat cooks the roti in the right places. Ideally, with some good quality iron tawa, the roti would fall off the tawa and into the flame when its done. But since my roti is still stuck up there, it is evident that I compromised on quality when I bought that thing 😦 . I set the tawa right again and used a knife to pry the roti away. The finished good looked like this :-

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Put a dollop of butter or ghee on the roti and serve hot. Since me and the kids were half dead with hunger by the time I completed the rotis, no snaps are available of the said butter-and-ghee-doused-rotis. We devoured them. The twins LOVED it. We made tandoori rotis for lunch, dinner, the next day’s lunch AND the next day’s dinner. We are kind of sick of it right now…..but at least my children willingly ate something and even asked for seconds. That was reason enough for celebration 🙂 .

So the next day I made honey and spicy baked chicken marinated in curd and ginger-garlic paste.

The maid agreed to take it all away. I wonder why she went about clucking her tongue each time she saw me 😐

*Sigh*

Frankly speaking, it was easier than I thought and tastier than I’d assumed. Do try it out. Everyone who’s had it has liked it. So far 😀
Do let me know how your’s turned out 🙂

Ciao for now !

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Its the season of peas. Lovely green peas which are now cheaper than what they usually cost throughout the year. The MIL brought around 3 kgs of green peas last week. The plan was to deep-freeze half of it and use up the rest. Since then, we’ve been having peas in practically every dish. Matar pulao, salads, matar-paneer, aloo-matar, matar-karanjee, matar-parathas and the list goes on (frankly, I’m a little sick of the little pea 😐 )

The kids aren’t big fans of the pod. But when disguised within parathas or in soup, they have it. Usually though, if they find a pea floating in their soup, it has to be removed!  Point is, they don’t like it much.

Last Saturday morning, I finally got down to shelling those peas. The twins were busy watching some cartoon (rationed viewing on Saturdays 🙂 ). I suddenly remembered that I’d left my phone in the bedroom. With the BF away, I keep the phone with me at all times…not wanting to miss out when he calls 😀 . So imagine my surprise when I walk back to the hall and see this :-Photo0292

Two little kids trying their hand at shelling peas. Shobby was having no luck with it. I saw him ripping off a few with his teeth. Worst part is, as soon as he saw his paparazzi mom zooming in for a pic, he scooted off the table he was sitting on. *Sigh* He did try to help me, didn’t he?

Lui was the picture of determination and dedication. Though the pods were a little hard to tug apart, she still gave it her best shot.

Photo0294

Looking at her sitting there, shelling peas with a content look on her face, I realized with a pang – my daughter has grown up! Though I refuse to believe it , in my heart, I have to accept the fact that she is no longer a toddler (in fact, I still call her my baby!). She is a grown-up little pre-schooler who thinks her mother is the picture of impatience. Why else would my every question to her be replied with a ,”Thoda sabr toh rakho...”

😐

Anyhow, 10 minutes into the shelling and she called it a day 🙂

But I didn’t mind. I’m just glad that she did something without me pestering her to do so. Usually, for kitchen related chores, I rope in Shobby. I ask him to put washed utensils in their place (the ones where he can reach). He helps me put vegetables in the refrigerator after sorting them 🙂 . For some reason, Lui abhors kitchen work. She will do anything else, sweep or mop the floors, fold clothes, fetch stuff.

For now, I’m just glad that the twins are learning to contribute to the house. I want them to know the difference between a house and a home…….slowly, but surely, we are getting there 🙂

 

 

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Running a household is a damn time-consuming task (not to mention, unpaid, thankless and with very trivial rewards)! I’m not a home-maker per se, but I try. There was a time when I used to cook three meals a day for 6 adults. Now I’ve restricted myself to just the morning/lunch fare for 6 adults and 2 kids. The rest is handled by the cook. There was a time when I used to sweep the house , but now the maid does it. There was a time when I washed the dishes everyday because the maid quit right after I came to my in-law’s place (she demanded extra charges, just for me 😐 ). Now the new maid washes them.

Suffice to say, life is much easier than before ,in terms of household work. In all other respects (GMIL’s illness, the twins, job, etc) life is pretty much hectic the way it was before. I dread to think how I would have managed, had we not kept a cook and maid *shudder*

But this post isn’t about all that. This post is about the tasks, that in spite of me doing about a million times till date, I have not been able to master 😦 . Alas, for all the lessons learnt and improvement points charted out, I fail in them each and every time 😦

Some of the regular household challenges I fail every time are :-

  • After rolling out a million chapatis till date, I’m ashamed to say that rolling a  triangular shaped (folded dough) into a circular chapati is just not my cup of tea ! Beat that!! The MIL and my mom roll out perfectly round rotis, in spite of the initial triangular fold. But I fail! My chapati  will always have a pointed end poking out 😦 *sob* All those years in the kitchen wasted 😦
  • And while we are in the kitchen, I must say that the exhaust fan and me are NOT the best of friends for a simple reason that it NEVER ‘clicks’ me to switch it on 😐 . So the whole house can go on a coughing fit when I cook a particularly spicy veggy, heck even I have to blow the smoke away from my face and wipe my tears as I stir the ladle, and yet, the fan sits there mutely, its blades looking on imploringly while I completely forget it exists!! (and EVERY TIME, the BF stalks in fuming, switches it on with a loud click and stalks off after glaring at me hard enough!)
  • Folding laundry! The MOST difficult/irritating task in this world! Sure I do it, but with very little pleasure and even lesser finesse! It is specially unnerving when I have to fold itty-bitty inner-wear of the twins which barely covers my palm! I’m just waiting for the twins to grow old enough to start folding their own stuff!
  • I cannot look into a toilet bowl while washing it 😐 Go figure! I turn my head to one side while I do the scrubbing on instinct. I would like to blame it on all the hollywood movies which showed creepy-crawlies flying out of the toilet bowl. Phobia? You bet!
  • Picking up stuff after the children! Now this is a relatively new work. When I was pregnant and the spine was bent till my head touched the back of my knees, I never knew that for the rest of my lifetime, I would spend with my spine bent , my head touching the front of my knees, picking up the zillion tiny things the twins throw all over the house. And just when I’m done with that last piece of lego and plunk myself on the sofa, the super brats start their ‘game’ all over again! The worst part? When I throw caution to the wind and say,”what the heck?! Am not picking up stuff anymore” and in walk guests, take a look at the shabby house and then turn to look at me. Oh lord, open up the floors and swallow me whole!! Pleeeease!!

disclaimer : As God is my witness, I bear no traces of guilt for the lack of talent in handling these tasks. I’ll do it, but I’ll continue doing it my way 😉

These are just the few challenges I face on a daily basis. Do you have any such regular household work that gets your goat? Is there anything that you do but do it awfully?

Please do share 🙂

 

Edited to add : The verdict is out. Folding laundry ranks way up there in the list of household challenges! Enterprising people can look into the lucrative business perspective of this hated job 😀

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Its been 4 months plus since the GMIL fell down and broke her hip.

And its been 4 months of constant worries, hectic schedules and mounting expenses. The expense part we can handle, but the worries and the hectic schedules (because of the absconding maids) have taken a toll on our patience. Everyone at home is snappy, ready to bite the others head off. But still, we haven’t had any major stand-offs yet 😀

In all this rigmarole, the one constant niggling irritant is the onslaught of the house-guests.

GMIL, God bless her, has a very loving influence on people who know her (except, *ahem* a couple of us). Since the day she fell down, there is no dearth of visitors to our place. People walk in at all odd times of the day and night. Not that we mind, they are family after all, as the MIL puts it.

The Family. Yes, we are that kind of family you know,the ones having  a centrally located house, the main elder couple having ALL their relatives in the same city, the kind of house, which is everyone’s favorite go-to place when its vacation time. So with GMIL unwell, we had all the more reason for people dropping by when their heart so desired.  We never mind the people who drop by, spend time with the granny and then leave. It’s the house-guests who grate on our nerves.

Anyone seen “Atithi tum kab jaoge“?? Well,we did a long time back. But then, we laughed it off. Not anymore. Not when we have people who come to visit, stay back and then make themselves at home with no consideration for the hosts. Going through the trauma of the last few months, here’s my checklist for what a house-guest should NOT do.

(PS: Some of it might come out with a severe vengeance, so just ignore 😀 . Solpa adjust madi)

House-guests of the world, listen up and listen sharp. Follow the rules and you’ll have a happy trip. Break them and we’ll make sure we slowly but surely break ties with you . You’ve been warned !!

Rule 1 :- Thou shalt not drop in unannounced.

Its okay if you just want to drop by for a quick hello. However hurried we might be, we’ll still make time to attend to you and stay back and chat. But it’s NOT okay if you plan to stay over for a couple of days, bring along your family , or worse, YOUR friends and expect us to host you till you deem fit to return. The least you can do to reduce our woes is to have the decency and courtesy to give a call beforehand and inform us about your plans.

This is someone’s home, not your all-expense-paid hotel where you can walk in anytime !!

Rule 2 :- When staying at other people’s houses, respect their privacy.

I know this is impossible when your hosts have a small house and hand over their bedroom to you. Even then, if you see anyone in the host family talking on the phone, don’t immediately ask whose call it was. Its none of your business. Also, if you see a couple sitting together late at night and catching up on the days activities, don’t interrupt them to remind that its late and they have to report for work the next day. Believe me, they are ADULTS. They KNOW.

Also, remember to knock on closed doors before barging in. Never forget, this is NOT your house!!

Rule 3 :- If you have a medical problem, its YOUR problem.

You have a heart problem and ‘forgot’ to get your pills? You suffer from diabetes and your medication runs out just as you step into our house? You stay here for a day and start having severe cramps in your legs? Alright, then I would suggest you take the lift to the ground floor and BUY your medication from the chemist store there. Don’t just ask the hosts to get them because ‘its on your way out’.  It’s not. The chemist store is at the ground floor and we take the lift to the basement parking. Also, your medication might cost a mountain, but we are too decent to ask you back for the money.

Or is that your intention after all?!!

Rule 4 :- Respect your hosts time.

YOU are on vacation. YOU have the whole day to yourself. YOU can do what you want throughout the day. Your hosts don’t have this liberty. So when you know that people have to leave for work, don’t barge into the bathroom and take your own sweet time for taking a bath. You can test all the shampoos and soaps AFTER we leave. Believe me , we don’t mind. But we do mind when we are running late for work but you INSIST that you HAVE to take a bath before 8AM because that’s the rule you follow at your place.

Like I said before , NEVER forget, this is NOT your home.

Rule 5 :- Never bring YOUR house-rules to our house.

So you add milk to tea while boiling and not afterwards? Methi leaves should be cooked with a handful of garlic cloves? Curtains and bed-sheets are ironed after every wash? You make sure the house is swept before 7 AM? Well, good for you. Now if you’ll please excuse me , I’ll reiterate once again, THIS IS NOT YOUR HOME. So stop trying to make us follow your house rules. WE don’t mind if our house is unswept until 11AM. WE don’t iron our curtains, we don’t have the time for it. And we like Methi just the way WE make it. If you don’t like it, take it or lump it. But don’t expect us to bend backwards and do stuff the way it is done in your house. By the way, does that give you a hint as to why WE never visit your place?

Also, if we turned our house into a duplicate of your’s , would you visit us? But then again, for the free food, maybe you will.

*Whew*

I think I can go on venting steam here. I’m yet to cover the bratty kids who love opening other people’s cupboards or over-zealous women who refuse to come out of the kitchen, or the ‘forever-in-Gyaan-Giving-mood’ people who make you sit down and listen to them dispensing advise on how we can make our lives better. Thanks, but NO thanks. Our life is just perfect and thats one reason you drop by here so often!!

The weekend’s drawing closer and I’m already gearing up for the onslaught of more visitors. I think our prayer’s for Granny’s recovery are reaching a fevered pitch 😐

Gotta charge up the mood batteries and make sure I’m able to smile through my anger.

Till then,

Ciao.



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It was a Bad idea!!

Bad Bad idea to gang up with 6 kids (5 under the age of 4) under one roof in the peak of summer.

The repercussions of my well thought out plans (or so I thought at that time) can be felt strongly even now 😦

The kids drove us crazy. The heat ensured we couldn’t go out anywhere during the day. Frequent power cuts (which Dad assured us wasn’t the case before) drove the children restless. Keeping them occupied became a traumatic experience .For once, I chided myself for not making my kids used to watching the telly. That way, I could at least make sure they sat in one place for a while instead of running up and down the stairs 😦

Whew!!

Looks like I’m ranting as usual.

Well, now that I’ve already groaned about the negatives, let me take my time and tell you about the good things that happened.Just to maintain the balance and all that jazz 😀

– The Family . The entire family (read, parents and siblings) got together after ages!! I think the last time we all came together was in Dec 2008 at the naming ceremony of the twins. After that, someone or the other was always missing. This time, we all came under one roof and had a ball. Literally 🙂

– The Love. The twins got to know their cousins after a long time. This was one totally fantabulous get-together. Where we elder siblings were busy reminiscing about our childhood and the years gone by, our kids were busy getting to know each other. Its a pity we (me and Aapa) stay so far away from the other two siblings. I swear all the kids took to each other as though born of the same womb. There were loads of hugs and kisses given for free between the toddlers (which the elders say have to be coerced out of their children), the eldest kid became a leader of sorts, with a faithful following of 5 toddlers behind him and it was a tearful farewell indeed when the kids of B’lore had to bid goodbye to the kids of Pune.  *Sniff* 😦

– The Time. I had one of the best times ever with the twins. From dawn to dusk, we were inseparable (blame it on the kids. I SO craved for loo breaks and bath times without them yelling blue murder behind my back!). Though it might sound clichéd, I must admit, I bonded with the kids BIG time. Back in Pune, I share them with so many people, but here, I took complete responsibility. Also, since the maid refuses to wash clothes and we use the washing machine, I washed the twin’s clothes by hand (that includes soiled clothing, remnants of a  losing battle in toilet training).

– The Food.The FOOD!! I must’ve gorged on a zillion mangoes (by the name of Banagenapalli which is now my all-time favourite!!), eaten dozens of fried fish and slurped on many a chicken/mutton curries. Needless to say, I’ve returned with one too many heat boils on my face. Ultra-clearasil and Face-Clin gel are now permanent residents of my purse 😐 .  I was apprehensive of feeding the kids non-veg (we had limited their intake to eggs and chicken/mutton soups), but seriously, you can keep a catholic out of church, but not a muslim away from non-veg !! The terrible two, fussy eaters them both, coolly munched on fried fish and chicken pieces as though they were born doing that !! And no, they didn’t touch the rice or rotis 😐

– The Talk. Where the twins earlier uttered at the max 5 syllables in a sentence, they have now progressed to entire stretches of conversation, which, if not stopped could go on for hours!! It was hilarious to see the twins trying their best to talk to the younger ones , often repeating the same line over and over again, obviously wondering why the youngsters were so daft! In return, they were at the receiving end when Baby M (who’s a year older) and elder cousin brother Bojo though that the twins were speech impaired. Luckily, everyone inspired everyone and the vocabulary of all the kids is now much enhanced 🙂

There is so much more to write about. But I think I’ll pass the talk and post the pics. There aren’t that many, because I was too busy having fun with the kids to bother with the camera. But I’ll surely post them as soon as I download them to my machine.

Till then folks, gotta say, its great to be back 🙂

(And Oh, I MUST write a completely new post on my trip back to Pune which is an experience in itself!! Let me keep that for later.)

Have a great week ahead 🙂



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