Walking Through An Open Plan House.

kunjur house 1
Traditional coastal house

Our friend Jairam Acharya, who is an astrologer at Parkala; (he is also the in-house astrologer for ETV and runs a shows with them.) Built a house at Percale, his nephew from Bombay had been every upset that Mamaji did have a big house, with lot of rooms but no bathrooms. Now we were a little amused because each room had an attached bath. For the little kid who came Bombay and was used to cloister spaces the large bathroom appeared like a room with an open bathing/toilet area.

Coming to think of it, before architects and architecture became a fad, the houses on the coast were built with lot of consideration, like the low slant roofing, with  a wooden false roof, that would have a particular leaf laid on it, I forgotten which one this kept the rooms cool.

Flooring was red, slate again it kept the floor cool.

kunjur house 2
inner courtyard

Plan of the house was also very interesting usually a square  and one entered the house through the Heggilu, , on one side of the hebbaligu would be the Bhavikatte or the well where one could wash the feet before entering the house.

The other areas were

Jagali – or open corridor, but it would be roofed usual pattern was open central courtyard that had medicinal plants, the tulasi, the space for the kids to play, to dry the food it was open and unroofed. Then was level one walking space of course roofed but it  was usually treated like a corridor to walk through it was not a personal space, then came the jagali with pillars and that would be the living space.

open plan house 1
My dream house

The Jagali near the Hebbagilu usually served as the official space where outsiders , officials  would interact.   Any food or drink to be served there would be impersonal and served by the service staff.

Rest of the jagali’s were open and people walked in and out, this is  lack of being cloistered is probably what makes the woman from southern India more social and less oppressed than her northern counterpart.  The farm hands, the domestic help came to this courtyard so did the younger women seeking the wisdom of the older ladies, young men who had to be advised  it was a more personal space,

Most houses had an easy-chair, and an arm chair not to mention a desk. In this space.

open house 1
GoodEarth Pattern Malhar

Parallel to this was the padsale (the nomenclature could be wrong it is ages since I used these) which was enclosed a place of privacy where people changed, after a bath the cupboards would be kept here; it was the place where newlyweds slept.

Then there was the bananthikone or a nearly dark room where someone who had just give birth would be housed. The Kottige, the Hatti these were various spaces.

The feel was we were part of nature, and the vast universe the feeling is amazing. Unfortunately we never appreciated it then.

Somewhere in 1950-60 I think compartmentalized home became a common theme, I remember some traditional homes  redesigning stuff, the standard, central hall, dinning bed room one and two to the left, kitchen and master bedroom to the right became the staple. 1980 brought the concept of rooms flowing into one another.

goodearth malar
pattern Malhar

Suddenly I see the re-emergence of the multi-utility spaces, https://housing.com  in a newsletter from only they call it open-plan homes now. Incidentally Goodearth (: www.goodearth.org.in ) is introducing Malhar patterns an eco-village with open-plan housing, if I were to evaluate those homes, to the compartmentalized flat I live in today,

  • On one hand I can visually connect living spaces in decor and aesthetics a great thing for a visual artist like me, but it is a war zone, since my family leaves a trail of destruction in every room they touch.
  • There are areas to hang art work, particularly the appliqué screen work I do, put plants to create spaces, but having to decide how much to keep and what to keep is a challenge.
  • When we grew up we would be left in the central courtyard a great place for us to play, it was open and lot of people keeping an eye, without mothers having to micro manage. Open plan houses replicate this space. A safe play area for kids within the parent’s vision without intruding.
  • Since the spaces were open we had lot of natural light, and breeze, we did not really bother with lighting the lamps or turning on the lights until late in the evening. At Malhar Patterns they have brought out this effect by doing away with non-load bearing walls.
  • The nicest part of those old homes was the kitchen view and the eating area, since the kitchen opened into the Jamal we sat at the jagli to eat and grandma would be cooking and conversing with us those who finished eating would throw away the banana leaf to the cows and clean up the eating space but they would continue sitting there to do whatever work they had do, albeit even homework. In contemporary time, a kitchen overlooking the dining and living spaces would mean more space when we entertain, otherwise less family time hogged by the television.

goodearth malar-2It is not that this great open courtyard life was all honky dory, I hated the lack of privacy, the  loud conversations between Grandma and Bhaggi used to the irritating, when the television arrived, I had no place to hide, and now with the mobiles it is a din!!

When it comes to entertaining I rather my guests did not see my dirty sink, and messy kitchen table all of which I can hide if there was a door.

Home floor plans have come a long way, and open floor plans I guess again depends on our lifestyle and priority, or maybe children growing up with open floor plans will turn out intrinsically learn to keep their space tidy and organized.

What is interesting is mobile technology and Knowledge work is allowing for the emergence of open plan-offices. There mixes of cubicles, workstations, private offices and co-workspaces and god knows what, our familiar jargon of Jagli and pasale is replaced by terms like Hoteling , alternate officing and Hotdesking.

images courtesy Google images.



Lets Wash The Dirty Linen.


“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day. The housewife wears herself out marking time: she makes nothing, simply perpetuates the present … Eating, sleeping, cleaning – the years no longer rise up towards heaven, they lie spread out ahead, gray and identical. The battle against dust and dirt is never won.”
― Simone de BeauvoirThe Second Sex

I definitely agree with Simone on this one, but the question is  Are we passing on the prejudice of household 1nequality to the next generation?

YES and this comes more from the advertisements on television and the television serials. The hoarding on the street, our refusal to respect men who help their wives, yet we admire the same man when he does the laundry for his mother.

Why do 2 out of every 3 children think laundry is only a mother’s job? — Again because time and again it being reinforced by the media through the media of advertisement. See the detergent advertisement, Biwi se bolo  to surf lagana.

Mom! Where are my fresh socks?’
‘Didi! Why didn’t you scrub my shirt’s collar? It’s still grimy!’
‘Dad! If you see mom ask her to keep my football uniform ready, I need it tomorrow!’

Coming to the three general “realities” that the prompt shares, well they are not reality that I have accosted in the 50yrs, that I walked the earth. My daughters did ask me where their socks were, until they learnt to pick and sort their laundry. My brother didn’t dare ask me to scrub his shirt collar, my parents would have taken him to task. My brother would never delegate a task to my dad, and neither do my kids, they might ask my husband for help to keep their uniform ready but ask to ask me.. they will ask me directly or if I am not there they will ask my husband. But ask my husband to ask me that is a NO-NO.

the research then gives me some statistics and asks me my take on it,

  1. 2 out of every 3 children think that laundry is mom’s job.
  2. 78% of the girls agree they need to learn to do laundry as they have to do it later.
  3. 81% married men in India agree daughters must learn house hold chores.
  4. 76% men not helping the house work are role models for children.

I would say, there is hope, that one child realizes that laundry need not be only mom’s job, 19% of the men do agree that daughters must learn household chores, 24% of men help in the house.

What worries me is 78% of the girls agree that they need to learn to do laundry as they have to do it later, it should be 100% every one should know how to do their laundry. At least their inner wear, it is absolute indecency to dump the inner for someone else to wash, it is like asking someone else to wash your Butt after a crap job.

Listening to this statistics I have a few doubts, were the women asked, opinion? Were the women asked what they taught their daughters more important what did they teach their son?

You might find that mothers don’t let their sons do the laundry. It would be really interesting to see how the mothers responding to the son-in-law doing the laundry, would she feel that her daughter is not doing her duty? Would she feel that she is judged that she has not trained the daughter in house work? I really wonder.

Its time we stopped making excuses … they have eyes! They can see that something needs to changed, the wastebasket is full it needs to be trashed out, we have run out of tea powder and we drink tea, tea powder is sold in the grocery store at the basement!  This is because the men have trained themselves not to notice things, because the less they notice the more we’ll take care of it for them. they say you should have told me I quite agree, also agree it is quite okay to bring the Puri from the restaurant when you have 15 people for dinner.

You might find that wives do not ask their husbands to do the laundry; maybe if they did the husbands would do it.  it might have just not occur to them that it was something that needs to be attended to.

By the way lot younger men do help their wives out with

The plan of action is very simple

  • Have an advertisement with Amitabh Bacchan and Shahrukh Khan doing laundry.
  • Have serials where women who go out to work are treated on par with men who go out to work.
  • Breaking the stereotypes begin with pictures on normal families, and not made up fashion plates who are bitches if they are trendy or Ms.Goodytwoshoes if they are dowdy.

Finally with two people earning it might be a good idea to delegate, or still better outsource a boring work like laundry to the nearest laundry you save power, water and physical effort of course you land up paying the laundry guy.

Not only does that share the load, it also gives the couple sometime to themselves.

I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.

Putting my home in a backpack?

image courtesy Google

Somewhere there has been the invasion of my physical space, the space that I call home it is as if, souls that are not at rest, the dark forces have made their home and my entire house is sagging by their weight. Then disaster struck, the painters came calling. When we had to pull the house around for the walls to be painted. I realized the junk we had collected. It was time to let go.

Yet letting has been such a power struggle. The thinks that I know need to go, but when my husband Mr.D says it becomes this huge boogie man who is there to play the power game.  And most of the clutter was nothing but physical manifestation of unmade decisions, the article I cut out in 1979, the recipe that I noted in 1978, I mean the prints faded they are no more relevant. Somewhere they are fuelled by procrastination.

The toughest thing to face has been, when it’s my time to go this has to stay behind the best thing then to do is to pack light. When people have moved on, and they are no more in our space, maybe it’s time to let their things go too. The wooden rack that Kittdoddamma gave me is not really needed, I cling and each time I have to clean it I cringe, not a pleasant way to remember a lovely woman. When Maya asked me if she could have the rack since I was not using it, and she needed it, very reluctantly I gave it away, it was then that I realized letting go didn’t mean I do not care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person I really have control is over me. Letting go just release the weight that was attached to my ankles.

got to go

Maybe it’s the same about anything that has over stayed its welcome in any space. We are secure in the pond that we are, and change even it means cleaning up or organizing is scary. But unless one ventures out, the ocean, sea, will all be the mysterious boogie man. Holding on to something just because it is good for me, for now could be the very reason why I do not have something better…

Our surgery professor, Dr.Divaker Shenoy used to tell us, we are told that holding on, and hanging on are signs of great strength, but there are times when it takes more strength to know when to let go and then just amputate, you never know, you might learn to live without the limb or regenerate a new limb. Though it did sound stupid then, the logic does make sense.

The big boogiebag.

Throwing that junk away, has made my house lighter, and definitely more aesthetic. How true the beautiful journey of today can only begin if we can learn to let go of yesterday. Maybe that’s what it’s all about, the winter the shivaratri, about learning from trees, who are experts letting to, that makes them so incredibly honest, throwing all those stored paper cuttings, and letters, somehow made me realize that key to worthiness was not in those paper cuttings or the crockery on my shelf, it was as if I could suddenly pick up my suitcase of pride, and board a flight to freedom…. this I know is my Shambala… find yours.

We all accumulate things we do not need to keep, as these are the soveneers of the past, but they are also obstructions in the way of our future. Many times we have clung on to many are useless and meaningless things these tend to pile up, and take up space in life. Letting go of this is scary… here’s what I did, I went into a meditative phase with self hypnosis and gave myself this suggestion

To Keep or not to keep 

With less clutter, I will be able to focus more on what I really need and want in my life, I will be freeing space in mind and my life just like freeing space on the hard drive of a computer, valuable space can be used for what is important in life. I can imagine my life streamlined and clear with space around me and more time. I am now moving on and progressing. I have lost nothing because I have all my memories still in my mind, I can remember whenever I want to without having clutter around. I am more effective, productive and hence am able to progress in the direction that I want, to.

I remember reading a book long ago, that said, don’t keep the things you need to take and then decide the bag, decide the bag and then put the things in. preferably choose a backpack. Thats what I plan to do with my house.declutter 2

Coming back to the mundane true happiness for all, are the 3D’s

  • Declutter
  • Donate
  • Deduct– save money by claiming donation on your tax returns.


My Den

living room courtesy Godrej-interio
My Den- courtesy Godrej -interio

I would like my house to be unique to me. sure, I’ve bought plenty of things out of the local ferry sale, or picked up second hand furniture from my grandmother, but the way I put them together in my home is special.  I mean we might buy a sofa at major decorating store, but the rug we pick up at the bylanes of jumaritalyya is also unique, it the room from carbon copy, or a sorry wannabe, to simply mine in no time.

I haven’t  had time to do all the things that I should be doing like running dieting and decorating my house, buying the furniture that I would love, or the dishwasher that I need.

Home-office space image courtesy google
Home-office space image courtesy google

But if a fairy godmother were to tell me I hereby grant you the power to redecorate probably this is what I would do

most important place in my entire house, would be my corner, my refuge, I would like to call it the SHE-SHED or SHEAVEN that is a compound word for SHE-HEAVEN. That would be books, greenery, study table, recline chair, and a sliding door to shut myself from the rest of the world. What I am looking at is a room that overlooks greenery so one wall is glass instead of brink. The other wall is sliding door like a shutter I mean it goes up, so that I can let people in or choose my space.

Interesting study table, courtesy godrej-interio
Interesting study table, courtesy godrej-interio

Why a pull down shutter, well that economizes on space, doors do take up space you know.

If possible I would have a area where I have pictures of my daughters. And on the right corner of the wall that has the glass, i would place a Buddha and my prayer bowl in front of it. On either side would be Himalayan rock salt.

Right outside the glass would be potted plants, I cannot think of names, but not roses or jasmine. The walls and furnishing is definitely lilac. And draperies well I doubt if I would need it, if I do, like the furnishing it would be Lavender.

fragrances by godrej-interio
fragrances by godrej-interio

Yes I would use a room fresheners maybe lavender fragrance if available.

Actually I would use lavender aromatherapy oil to mop my floors too.

Yes, my moonstone would be my worktable,

godrej e
living room by Godrej-interio

When I was newly married I wanted to have a very Indian looking living room at low cost, then I had cane furniture, and curtains made of Ikal cotton saris, the pallu cut up to make cushion cover, the packing boxes doubling as coffee, tables, or a casual sitting space, a wicker basket for news paper etc.

Those days I  was being unconventional, my sense of decor did not fit, the Bombay or to be less nasty Urban-middle class decor.

Eventually my kids came along, my practise picked up and I let myself and my house go.

Now that my kids are out, I realize that i was so busy with the mama track that my house has gone seeded, somewhere deep hidden where some images, that my father had partially allowed me to indulge in, the ethnic chic no more entices, now i am looking at ergonomic, clutter free decor.

My walls then were light yellow, commonly called “Gopi” curtains were off white and I had done some fabric painting on it. Thinking back it must have been pretty clumsy and very wannabe rustic,

Living room

Bedroom concepts by Godrej interio
Bedroom concepts by Godrej interio

Activities conducted here

  • Entertaining guests,
  • Watching television

The ambience that I am looking at is rather formal. Colours would probably be white,  convenient for guests to place their coffee, and easy to clean for guests who turn with unruly kids…so probably I central carpet area with a water body and floating flowers, furniture set along the walls.

modular kitchen- Godrej Interio
modular kitchen- Godrej Interio

About Dining area, actually I was wondering if we could have a sit down dining space, so that I could put the television in the eating area.  Of course the refrigerator, and microwave would be here. colours that I am looking at here are warm shades of pink, and side table on which I can story crockery, cutlery and accompaniments for a meal.

The Bed room should be a rest and rejuvenating place, so soothing shades of lavender, or lilac. With curtains that is just a shade darker than the walls. on the wall right opposite as open my eyes, I would place the image of maitreyi Buddha   so that I could begin my day with a blessing. And close my eye with gratitude.For the concept of Godrej interio I am willing to sacrifice the lilac-lavender for the brown-orange.

godrej logo
“I am participating in the Upload and Transform #HomeCanvas activity in association with Godrej Interio and BlogAdda. If you are not blogging, you can still be a part of this activity. Here’s how”

The kitchen— gone is the fascination I had for the jars and Horlicks bottles, I just want minimal stuff now. No more does the country kitchen look excite me, with its herbs, and onions hanging from the peg. Now I am looking at clean efficient modular kitchen, that accommodates my washing machine and dishwasher, and of course the Spider’s widow plant to inhale the toxin from the cooking gas. Maybe if i can I would have a small potted version of kharipatta leaves, ginger and maybe chilli, of course one corner where I do get plenty of sunlight I would have a potted lemon tree. The only wall decor I would opt for is the idol of Annapurneshwari.

Know what I just realized by reshaping or decorating my outer space I am expressing my inner sense of self, “I like that ” becomes,”I am like that.”

From a rebel trying to find her identity, I have become establishment.

Taming the Stink Monster

image courtesy internet
image courtesy internet

The stink Monster

I do not really have story to share about having guests over and having to battle the stink monster simply because I very rarely formally invite people over…

But there was this time, when I had just returned from an outstation tour, the house smelled musty and damp a little sweet as if it was haunted by the ghosts of long dead cookies, it also had a strange smell that I could not diagnose. As I was in the process of diagnosing this unidentified smell a guest walks in, if it is someone I am familiar with I would just take the person right out the balcony but this person was the formal lounge visitor.

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. The odours of fruits transports me to the ancestral village, the smell of dead fish that wafts with afternoon breeze, takes me back to the town I grew up in, my childhood of mango and cashew trees, the open hillock and the puddles of rain water. There are other odours, instantaneous and fleeting that cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awaking sweet memories of summers and ripening rice fields far away.

It is rather strange, some time back as I went down some place the stench of formaldehyde just wafted by and I felt so comfortable in that zone, the odour that I associated with Manipal anatomy museum and dissection hall, my favourite haunt through my childhood.

Then there have been times, when I have walked into a formal hall, and the place would stink, somehow I would feel compelled to explain that the smell was in there before I went in there. Has that happened to you? actually it’s not your fault, I mean I or you we’re in this process of holding our breath, and just getting out and now we open the door and  have to explain, ”oh! Listen there’s an odour in there and I didn’t do it, it’s bad.”

One can go on and on about Odours and association, but its hands on tackling that is important.

Short Term Odour Management…

  • I ensure no undone laundry loiters around.
  • I time to finish my cooking an hour and half before my guests arrive.
  • A quick vacuuming of gross irritants around and tidying up the place. If time and man power permits mopping, but usually it does not.
  • Open all the windows for 15- 20 mnts. This allows the existing stench to go out.
  • Now spray the room freshener, if need be shut the windows.

When I am going away for more than a day two.

  • Complete packing.
  • Tidy the entire house, including running the laundry.
  • Dishwashing should be done too… the sink has to be clean.
  • Sweep and mop the house with a disinfectant.
  • Finally tidying of individual room… shut secure the windows, spray room freshener… shut the door and latch from without.

Every since I discovered this technique I return to a house that does smell of musty moisture and cookie ghosts.

My previous experience with Ambipur

“I am blogging for #SmellyToSmiley activity atBlogAdda.com in association with Ambi Pur




Laundry and life lessons.

picture courtsey internet
picture courtsey internet

Does sharing a load within the house hold lead to happier and better quality of household, of course it does, but it is just one part of the story. More I think is about acceptance and acknowledgement.

Lets look at the very scenario that that the prompt talks about, the husband gets ready and the wife is not ready since she has work to finish.  Well this looks like scene right out of a Hindi movie or an ancient women’s era story where  sister Sita is a focused house frau, and hence the marriage is strained, and sister Rita trots along and teaches her how to balance, home and husband.

Sure enough works fine. But ladies, we are now on the second level of the challenge…. balancing the house, and work. With all our visuals being bombarded by the set designers of the TV and Hindi movie scenario we seem to have some rather warped concept of living spaces.  The cruellest irony of housework, people only notice when you don’t do it.

Sunday’s for me became a day of celebrating with self pity and victimization. My husband would be busy with his work, and kids with their friends.  The ultimate declaration of my oppression was the festival of holi, food had to be ready, and there was the clause that cooking had to done after a bath. That meant, washing up after 12 noon, and then cooking lunch mind you a festive one at that, the traditional puri-mithai wallah. The drama went on till I accepted that the secret of surviving housework is simply to do it. pull the plug on the part of my brain that always want to negotiate everything. You  need to change a diaper rinse a bottle, clean a spill, fluff a pillow? Consider it done. It’s a no brainer. End of conversation, end of story. It meant not postponing chores-and spending any mental energy equivocating, temporizing or stalling- it is actually a lot more restful than worrying about what needs to be done.

All the same the deep sense of not being acknowledged was hurting. Then I had my burns accident. The seven months taught me that I was not indispensable, life went on, the things that had to done miraculously got reallocated. And hallelujah the lesson of life, I am not indispensable, and my family does know to chip in, when needed. So what stopped them all the my  revelation two—I ,me and myself this was such a shock, and an ego deflator, my halo no longer fitted me.  i had kind of become like a person who took control and that did not feel very pleasant.

The third revelation came here, the car washing, the scooter washing which was hard labour, all that was done by my husband. Well it was not as if he did not help in the house work just as my part was taken for granted his work was taken for granted too.

The fourth was revelation was I never asked for help so none came,  the exercise in delegation, and was a hard one, and then there is always this issue of my way and your way, it is even harder to accept that there could be another way of doing things that is just as efficient as mine if not more.

My Husband is not in the picture since he clicked it,
My Husband is not in the picture since he clicked it,

Getting one daughter to load the washing machine, and the other the dry the clothes. Getting one daughter to lay the table and the other clean up.  Small things to make wrapping house work faster.

It was not just about getting the family help, it was also about letting the family help. It was about balancing the structure. letting my daughters or husband buy the vegetable did not mean that I get disempowered, it means  that their energy is getting invested in the family, from a polarized, I and You we move to the zone of us.

Life lessons mwah mwah sweetie laundry loading—absolutely top hole—have to say.!!

“I am writing for the #ShareTheLoad activity at BlogAdda.com in association withAriel.”


Shaaaring the load.. ah weay of life Absolutely top Notch – I have to say.

My Husband is not in the picture since he clicked it,
My Husband is not in the picture since he clicked it,

I smiled a self satisfied smile, I had been shortlisted for the #Washbucket challenge, with the number of wash loads I do, I was sure I would have a lot to share.”   As I was planning the blog, I picked up the ringing phone, after which the next thing I know is I am in Hyderabad, taking care of my daughter who has a challenged stomach, homesickness, exam stress all visiting at the same time.

The wash bucket remained where it was.

When the tide arrived, I was totally confused as to how I should handle it. I very hesitantly called my husband up, asking if any parcel had arrived for me.


“Have you run the wash load I asked him,” he said no, I asked him if he could run the wash load and gives me a feedback; he was silent for a while.

I was all set to backtrack,

“What exactly do you want? And what is this about?” he asked, I shared the wash bucket concept with him.

“Okay, I shall try the product and give you a feed back. I shall give you a picture of the machine and the powder but I won’t figure in it, I don’t want my picture to be plastered on the net.” Fair enough, He called me up in the evening to tell me,

  1. The load was 4kgs in weight.(we use a fully automatic 7kgs load bearing IFB washing machine.)
  2. Mixed fabric and coloured – so he had programmed it for cold wash.
  3. There was no scoop in the packet so he used  about a 1 ½ tablespoon using the kitchen measuring spoons.
  4. He did not use pre wash soaking, or the extra rinse.
  5. He did not add the fabric softener.

Actually it is already available in the store, all the same, it not very different from its previous avatar, except that clothes are softer after the wash.  ”

Of course his clothes are not very soiled, or bloodied, if it were I would rather he went to the doctor or hid the body whichever relevant than worry about wash loads.  I could suggest ketchup on the shirt before a trial, well I did not think of it.

”“I hereby take a pledge to share the household chores and not carry the burden all by myself. I on my honour I promise not to redo the bed after it is made by anyone other than me for I know nobody dies of sleeping in an unmade bed, at wrinkles and crooked bed sheets are okay. I also appreciate true friends who come to visit me, and not inspect the dust bunnies in my house.

picture courtsey internet
picture courtsey internet

As for Sheryl  Sandberg’s claim that a husband who does the laundry  … it’s romantic when we get older, and hard to believe when you’re younger, well will let you know in another 15yrs, when old age catches up.

I nominate bloggers

  1. Chendil Kumar      http://www.chendilk.com/
  2. Sweety Shinde https://sweetyshinde.wordpress.com
  3. Kokila Gupta         http://sunshineandblueclouds.blogspot.in/
  4. Rajini Puri           http://solitaryreaperwrites.blogspot.in/
  5. Vikram karve http://karvediat.blogspot.in/

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