Footloose run – back to basics

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Coach Ravindra/Run with me Foundation organizes the most innovative running events every year. There is the Qutab Minar to Chandni Chowk half marathon, starry night run, double challenge (where you run the same distance on both days and try to beat your time on the 2nd day) and now the Footloose run. We were not allowed any gadgets in the event – no phones, no smartwatches and trackers, no earphones, no watches, no pacers and no asking people around for time etc.

The run had 2 objectives:

  • To get us back to the basics. Everyone’s first run is without all of these gadgets. Why do I need music to run? Why can’t I track the speed and distance without a tracker? After 3-4 years of running I should be able to.
  • To predict the completion time of the run. Can I predict my time? I still don’t know in what time I completed the run. Did I meet my target or did I better it? Can I train for timing without a tracker?

People who can’t afford gadgets run too. Why are we so dependent on them? Have running and marathons become a thing of the elite? Are running groups a new way of networking?

What I learned from this event :

  • I don’t know what pace I run at. I only track the average pace so when I go fast I don’t know how fast I am and when I slow down, I don’t know how slow am going.
  • The first 4 km are always challenging for me. That is the point where am wondering what am doing and why. In an event, the initial excitement and the other runners around me get me to a decent pace till 4 km. My body goes in auto mode after that and picks up pace.
  • I slowed down in the last 3 km. That is where I kept hearing the body pump trainer Anand’s voice in my head screaming “don’t stop. You don’t stop”. At this point I missed my smartwatch and music. The numbers on the watch would have made me push myself. The music would have been a good distraction.
  • I need to remove my dependence on a gadget to figure out my pace. It’s stupid. Does that mean I cannot run if I forget to carry a gadget?
  • This is the 2nd event I have participated in this year. Too many setbacks have impacted the running. Events help push you and meet a timing goal. You are always faster at an event vs while running alone or in a group. I think I will participate in more 10km runs this year.

How was your Sunday morning?


The horror of hunting for a shared flat in Mumbai

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It has been 3 months in a shared apartment and I think I like the place. Hope I haven’t jinxed it. Sure, I miss Suzette’s and Haiko. But Worli, Peddar Road and Colaba are close enough to go for a morning run.

But this post isn’t about that. I had expected the experience of finding a shared flat to be hassle free compared to staying alone. It wasn’t. I ended up having some weird experiences and meeting weirdos.

Flat no 1: At Versova

I hadn’t ever been to Versova until that day but I was looking for a decent flat in any suburb of Mumbai. I had landed from Goa from holiday and headed straight to the flat in Versova. It looked very quaint and attractive in the photos and the flatmate sounded nice on the phone. It was Tuesday night and the traffic was bad. I reached the apartments, somewhere deep inside Versova. There was a weird fish smell in the air and the building looked dilapidated. I couldn’t imagine where I would go for a run. I messaged the flatmate and told her I was heading back without checking out the place because I didn’t like the area.

Her reply: You are not even coming upstairs?

Me : No. I don’t see the point

Her : That is so rude. I cancelled plans for you

Me : I am sorry but I have lots of luggage and will have to book another cab. Plus am too exhausted for niceties

She was not happy and did not hold back on the anger.

Flat no 2: Chembur

A female shared pictures of a lovely flat in Chembur. But it was unfurnished. I was looking for a flat where I could move in with only my personal belongings so the lovely flat was off the list. This female sent me 10 messages trying to convince me that buying appliances was so much better than renting them or going for a fully furnished flat. I had to politely decline and reply to the messages in monosyllables.

Flat no 3 : Powai

This was the first flat I checked out. A fully furnished 3 bhk in Nahar Amrit Shakti that I fell in love with. The room had a BALCONY. I thought everything was final when I left for the Goa trip. But the female dropped a bombshell that the other 2 flat mates are vegetarians and I won’t be able cook non veg. I rarely cook chicken but eggs are my life and soul. And I don’t understand people who want to impose their life choices on others. Did I really want to inhabit the same space with such people? The females were stringent on this criteria and I had to let the flat go.

Flat no 4 : Powai

A lovely room with a tiny balcony through the bathroom and a great view. The rest of the flat was mediocre. The 2nd room in the 2bhk was inhabited by 2 females. I checked out the room and the flatmate mentioned she was moving out at the end of May. She had to speak to the owner for the agreement since it was due for a renewal. I kept following up for weeks. Finally, the agreement issue was sorted out. But the owner hiked the rent and it went out of my budget. Then the other 2 females decided they wanted to move to the other room and their room was up for grabs. That is when I gave up.

Flat no 5 : Chembur

I saw lovely pictures of the flat. It sounded like a perfect match – fully furnished 2bhk with only 2 people (so rare for only 2 people to share a flat in this city) and attached washroom. What could go wrong? The flat had a weird damp smell, there was no ventilation, the lift wasn’t working,  the white goods were a million years old and the furnishings were horrible. The flatmate was frustrated since she couldn’t figure out why she hadn’t been able to find someone. I was honest with her for my reason for rejecting the flat.

Finalising the current flat wasn’t easy either and involved lots of back and forth. Moving in wasn’t a cakewalk and it took 2 months to get the agreement done.

Dealing with flatmates has been as painful as dealing with owners or brokers. Infact it has made me appreciate brokers. At least you don’t have to deal with 2-3 people who dictate terms. Thankfully I haven’t had major issues with my current flatmates and hope it continues that way.

Victims of fat shaming

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There is a debate on fat shaming happening on my IG right now. I don’t know why unhealthy (includes fat and skinny people both) people feel victimized. It is the health conscious people who should cry about victimization. Don’t believe me? Try adopting a healthy lifestyle for a change. People will laugh at you, mock you, raise their eyebrows, assume you don’t know how to have ‘fun’, force you to booze, dope, eat junk and force feed you desserts. All of this has happened to me. From acquaintances to family to colleagues to close friends, they have all been an impediment on my fitness journey. Here is the funny part- none of these people are healthy. In fact, most of them are fat or on their way to being fat.

I will give you a picture of what these ‘victims’ are like. Few months back N, a colleague from my previous team, and I went for coffee to a nearby coffee shop. She ordered waffles drizzling with chocolate, ice cream and what not. I don’t remember the last time I ate something with so many calories. Atleast not in those portion sizes. I had to take a bite or two. The conversation revolved around her love for chocolate and while she gobbled up 500-1000 calories in a snack, she complained about how much weight she has gained. She didn’t stop there. She grabbed the fat on her waist and showed it to me. While eating the waffles dripping in chocolate.

In all aspects of our life, we agree that we are responsible for whatever turn destiny takes. More or less. I am not talking about tragedies or life threatening diseases or other things beyond our control. But when it comes to weight and health, general tendency is to act like it is beyond one’s control. That isn’t fair. I have worked hard, trained like a maniac, read up on health, sucked up to trainers for their knowledge and help, isolated myself, killed myself with guilt over every piece of chocolate devoured. So when someone who hasn’t even tried, screams victimization and fat shaming, I can’t help but guffaw at them. Sorry. You are not getting any free passes here.

If you are genuine, I will provide you with all my support but there are no shortcuts in life. This reminds me of women who refuse to stand up to their parents when it comes to arranged marriage, then spend all their lives acting like victims without lifting a finger to try and get out of the situation because it’s too hard.

I am pretty sure someone is going to defend such people too. The weaker you are, the easier life is for you. I have seen that happen all my life. You only get support when you act like a victim. Shirk it off and act like you are strong enough to deal with it and nobody gives a shit.



The Meeting 

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Friday evening was significant. Very casually, my mother invited KC over for lunch at the new flat in Mumbai. KC’s schedule in Mumbai is always packed. Over 2 days he has to catch up with school friends and MBA friends. And spend quality time with me and his mother. Sometimes at the same time. I didn’t want him to reschedule his plans at the whims and fancies of my mother. 

I told her it wasn’t possible but left the final decision on him. I wondered how I would feel if he didn’t make the effort to make the time. I was going to resent him forever. I have suffered his mother for 8 years, he couldn’t take out an hour for mine?

To give some context, my parents met him and his family in 2008. It did not go well, to put it mildly. They haven’t met since. My relationship with my parents has mostly been stormy over the years. My dad’s heart ailment is what got me to call and visit after almost 2 years of no contact.

KC readily agreed. I was surprised when he insisted we accept the invitation. I moved it to breakfast because it was more convenient and we wouldn’t have to linger for more than an hour. It was a peaceful breakfast and I ferried KC out in 45 mins. 

I don’t know what prompted this change in my mother. I can only speculate. What I know for sure is that it doesn’t matter. I’ve gone through the whole circle of hurt, pain, tears, loneliness, learning to live without family and turning hard hearted. Am at a point where their views, opinions, affections, approval or disapproval have no place in my life. I walk on egg shells around them because they don’t understand me and I don’t understand them. It’s too late to repair anything now. Polite distance is all I have to offer now. Any gesture towards appeasement is too little, too late. 

My family is fraught with manipulation, jealousy, happiness at relatives’ misery, distrust, gossip, slander and selfishness. Everytime a relative calls after years of not staying in touch, my first thought is “what do they want now?”. I can almost predict their intentions and political designs and keep myself safe. It is a vortex I can’t get drawn into. Worse, pull KC into it. I will get out unscathed but he may not be so lucky.

This meeting was to test the waters but I have no intentions of breaking down the fences that have been built in the last 9 years. They do not get to mess my life again. Once was enough. Unfortunately the damage they’ve done is permanent. I will always be cynical about a parent child relationship. 


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Now is the time for mid year appraisals. That time of the year when your salary must justify the judgement someone gets to pass on you and your skills. My idea of a good appraisal is when you can anticipate correctly what’s coming your way- good or bad. Whatever feedback that comes your way must not be a surprise. This can happen when you’ve taken feedback at regular intervals and can read the signals given by the reporting manager accurately. 

Of course, this feedback should be taken with a handful of salt. There are certain skills that everyone can be better at but at the end of the day, the corporate wants robots. Everyone evaluates everyone else against themselves. Every manager wants their reportees to be like them. “I am people friendly and have lots of informal, after work interactions”. So should you. “I treat people like pawns”. So should you. Etc etc etc. 

It’s a tricky balance. You have to show you have worked on the feedback without actually turning into the reporting manager. The higher you go, the tougher it is to say No. Being upfront about your views is actively discouraged at the top. And yet, I have worked with managers who are upfront and yet successful. Their rare breed does exist. You would expect that your power to say No increases as you move closer to the top. But it is the opposite in reality. And if you are a person who can cut through the bullshit easily and are upfront, you already know expecting you to be politically correct will be the first topic on the feedback list. 

Key takeaway – pretend to change while not actually changing. Have at least 1 person who you trust, preferably someone senior, and take their feedback and work on their advice. 

Crash and burn

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Forward and backward.

Backward and forward.

Round and round in circles.

Take me back.

Back to where?

Where is now?

Where was then?


Backward and forward.

Forward and backward.

Round and round in circles.

I crash and burn.

Crash and burn, if I stop.


No closer to the answers now, than then.

Backward and forward.

Forward and backward.

Round and round in circles.

Train in the rain

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Most days am a sensible person with burts of insanity but there are some days when I act surprisingly out of character.

I was back in Mumbai after 10 days of break and it was raining. I was dressed early and decided to reach office early so I could leave early in the evening. I had enough time to put on my highest heels I brought from Gurgaon and apply everything in my make up kit. From mascara to brow pencil, my face had everything on. I tried booking an Ola share (no Uber pool in the area I have moved to. No markets either. Or restaurants) but couldn’t find one. Uber Go had bhayankar surge pricing which lasted for 48 hours.

I decided to take the train. Not a big deal in Mumbai EXCEPT I haven’t even been to this harbour line station before. I knew there are trains which take 20 mins to Vile Parle (where my office is located) so I didn’t think much about it. In my heels, with gym and lunch bag in tow, face painted with make up and without an umbrella, I hailed the kaali peeli to take me to the station. I paid 80 bucks for the 20 mins drive, bought the train ticket (Rs 50) and waited for the train. It was raining but I had avoided getting drenched. The train to Andheri came in 5 mins and I got on. The first class was mostly empty but the seats were wet so I would have to stand. It wouldn’t be an inconvenience till Bandra, when the train fills up. Another 5 mins passed but the train didn’t move. People started getting off. Rains picked up. What was happening? I got off and enquired. Mahim station was flooded and the train was getting diverted to Vashi. Just my luck. Nobody seemed fazed. People continued to wait. A train to Panvel came and went. Another to some other harbour line. It was 8.45 am, 45 mins since I left home, 15 mins past the time I had expected to reach office.

I walked out of the station, in my heels, face painted with waterproof make up, gym and lunch bag in tow, without an umbrella. And walked. And walked. And walked. In the rain. All the cabbies rejected me. Ola couldn’t detect my location. Uber had surge pricing. So I walked. And walked. And walked. Till one kaali peeli decided to drop me.

I reach office at 9.45 am. 1.45 hours after I originally left. Spent 100 bucks more than what Uber was charging me at surge pricing.

BUT… my mascara or make up didn’t run. So, I made one decision right. Right? Right?

Foodie shoodie

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Few years back, someone visited a restaurant I recommended and asked me “What do I order?” My reply was “Whatever you want”. I was a little surprised by the question. I have never asked anyone what I should order. It depends on my mood and craving. How can anyone tell anyone else what to eat.

I am wiser now and realize that the new world, with its social media icons, has a group of ‘foodies’ who treat eating out as a tick mark activity. They will go to a new city and ask for food recommendations. Then they will travel from one end to the other end of the city to mark it off their to-do list. This gives them a status of a true social media icon when it comes to food. Then they will go around telling people what to eat where. And to only eat that specific item in that restaurant.

They don’t enjoy food like you or I do. They don’t have personal views about a restaurant. The objective is to proclaim that all the popular places have been visited and now every person can turn to them for recommendations. Unsurprisingly, all these people have tried to make money out of this, by way of food walks or blogs.

This is how the conversation went with one such person:

Him – Arya Bhawan, Ramashray etc etc

Me- I have been to Arya Bhawan. Great food.

Him- But what did you eat there?

Me (confused because I have been there 4 times with different people and ordered something new everytime. Also, I helped my companions finish their food too)- Many things.

Him- What you should eat there is the thaat idli. For Pongal go to XYZ…

Me *subtle eye roll*

When I like a restaurant I end up trying as much of the menu as I can. In fact, all my favourite restaurants serve consistently good food. They won’t make a good sandwich and a bad pasta.

Sure, there are places like Smokehouse Deli in Khan market where I have only ordered eggs benedict. And yet, my answer to “what should I order at SHD at Khan market?” will always be “whatever you damn well please”. Because my preference for eggs benedict is personal. Am I the most knowledgeable or well travelled person? No. Neither are you. So, the best sandwich in your books won’t be the same in my books. So shut the fuck up and let people eat.

Don’t go to a city and ask people “where can I get the best dosas? or the best sandwiches? or the best kebabs?” Just experiment and come to your own conclusions which should be kept to yourself unless someone specifically asks you. Or check out Zomato and tripadvisor for balanced views.

And if someone asks you what to order at a restaurant, give them one tight slap and point towards the menu.


How not to conduct a foodwalk

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This is a rant. Because I had phone calls to return yesterday but couldn’t make the time. My weekend was absolutely packed and I wasted 3 hours (plus 2 hours) of my life yesterday on a foodwalk. The food walk was for Iftar in the lanes of South Mumbai and sucked. It was so bad that I left without eating anything and cursed the city.

I reached Churchgate station at 6.20 pm and met V. V was conducting the food tour and apparently he conducts all the food tours in Mumbai for this company. He kept praising himself and narrated stories about an uncle who flies down a chef from Lucknow to cook kebabs for him but V took him to amazing kebab places in Mumbai and he couldn’t stop raving. Another French lady, who does not drink beer, comes for every beer crawl he conducts. Which is strange because why would you pay someone to take you to beer places you have already been to.

I asked him if Shashi tukda is available in Mumbai and he looked blank. A foodie, who has not heard about Shahi Tukda. That is the problem with most self proclaimed ‘foodies’ or food bloggers. They don’t know about food outside their city. Mumbai foodies assume the best South Indian food in the country is in Matunga or that best kebabs are in Bhendi Bazaar. They have no idea about what the rest of the country has to offer. Don’t call yourself a foodie if you haven’t tried the cuisine in it’s native (for lack of a better word) place.

We reached some Masjid at 6.45 pm and waited for the rest of the group to arrive. People started trickling in and it was 7.15 pm when the walk started. People had started breaking their Roza and 25 of us walked near the Masjid where Bade Miyan has their pop up which serves chicken soup. V had not made prior bookings so there was no space and anytime crowds would pour out of the mosque. So, we waited. At 7.30 pm, we were served a sad soup filled with oil. I decided this wasn’t worth gaining calories over. One smart family decided to leave the group and explore on their own. V did not offer any information about the food. On asking, his reply was “I don’t do that. I will only take you to eat. I don’t have any stories to narrate”. Excellent. We paid Rs 1000/head (25k for the group) for 3 hours of his time. Wow!!!

We walked for 10 mins and came into an empty lane where people were eating chicken. “Finally, some food”; I thought. But that was not to be. We were served malpuas with rabri here. They were not sweet so that was good but why were we eating dessert first? Nobody had any idea. We walked again. This time V’s friend noticed I was alone and started a conversation.

Him : Hi. Where are you from?

Me (Ummm. Wondering how it is relevant. Shouldn’t he ask where I am right now?) : Gujarat

Him : So, you are a vegetarian?

Me : Why would I be a vegetarian? And why would I come for this food walk if I was one?

Him : Because you are a Gujju?

Me : But Gujjus eat non veg

Him : Where do you work?

Me : I work in sales. FMCG sales. I sell confectionery?

Him : What is confectionery? I am a mechanical engineer

After 10 mins…

Him : Should I hold your bottle of water?

Me : Why? Do you want to drink water?

Him : No. No. I can hold it for you.

Me : No thanks. I can manage.

I had a purse and a bottle of water. The purse was heavier but he offered to hold the bottle because patriarchy won’t let him help a woman with her purse unless he is married to her. And why would I need help carrying a bottle of water? I don’t get it. Thankfully, he didn’t ask for my number.

After another 15 mins of walking, we reached a lane in Bhendi Bazaar with chicken and mutton kebabs. I asked V if they had buff but he said it’s over. After 15 mins of waiting around, V brought 2 huge naans. I didn’t see any kebabs with him. People in the group happily started eating the plain naan. I took a bite hoping there is something unique about this but it was a plain, fucking naan. That is when I lost it and told him am going home. It was 9.30 pm and I have an early morning.

I asked KC what he had for dinner. “I ordered kebabs from Khan Chacha”. That was the last straw and I spent the rest of the train ride ranting on twitter. Maybe the food walk improved and people did eat amazing food on that walk. Or maybe they ate mediocre food and raved about it because their standards are low. But I came away with the view that I should stop looking for good food in Mumbai. In my books, there is and there will never be anything about Mumbai that is better than Delhi. And if I ever change my mind, please shoot me in the head.

I have attended 3 food walks before this and they were all amazing. The first time, it was just the guide and 3 of us so we got a personal tour in the lanes of Old Delhi. The 2nd time we went on a foodwalk to Andhra Bhawan and Bengal Bhawan. The guide, who was a Punjabi, talked to us about the different cuisines in South and what makes Andhra food different from the rest. At Bengal Bhawan we tried the prawns malai curry (yummy) and bunch of other food. The 3rd walk was in a large group but we headed to Jama Masjid where the guide’s friend broke Roza and we had buff samosas and dates. Watching hordes of people breaking their fast together as the sun set was a memorable experience.

Here are some dos and don’ts of food walks

  • Stop charging insane amounts of money for it unless you are someone famous
  • Groups of less than 10 people are ideal
  • Making prior bookings. Do a recce of the route and talk to the shopkeepers in advance so they are prepared for your group
  • Start the walk on time, even if people are late
  • End the walk on time. If the walk is supposed to end at 10 pm, don’t extend it till 11 pm
  • I can get a list of recommendations for the food online. What are you bringing to the table? Talk about the food. Talk to the people in the group. That is the point of the walk.

Until this company refunds my money and gets their house in order, am done with their walks.

The Trek

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We didn’t have enough time to plan a special trip for our birthdays this year. The inclination was low and KC was supposed to be in USA for work. When the work trip was cancelled, I looked up options online. We have talked about going on a trek but never done it. The Bhrigu trek seemed perfect because it is 4 days trek and meant for beginners. The idea of trekking to 14,000 feet to see a frozen lake seemed exciting.

Last time we were at such high altitudes in Leh Ladakh, both of us had altitude sickness and it has taken us 7 years to gather the courage to scale that altitude again.

We took the bus for Manali and spent 1 day relaxing. Hectic trips are not KC’s thing and proper relaxation time has to be planned for him. We met the group of trekkers (26 of them) the next day in the afternoon. The drive to Gulaba 22 km from Manali took 2.5 hours because of the crazy traffic. The traffic here can give Bangalore serious competition. We managed to cross the checkpost because our car driver was a local. The other 20 people weren’t so lucky and they had to trek up the 2 km road. We were carrying 10 kg of luggage each in our 40L backpacks and trekked up 1 km. The mules carrying our tents had not yet reached and it started raining. We put on our rainwear and waited for our tents. The first night is a blur. At some point it stopped raining, we took in the beauty of our surroudings- green meadow surrounded by snow capped mountains, peed in the outdoors till the tents were ready, introduced ourselves to the other couples/family/solo travellers/group of friends, had dinner and dropped dead inside the cozy sleeping bags.

On day 2, we had to trek 6 km and 2,000 feet to reach the base camp for Bhrigu lake. KC hired a mule and I offloaded all the additional luggage into his bag. We didn’t have a day pack only for essentials and I hiked with 5-9 kg of stuff in backpack. We crossed meadows and the higher we went, the tree cover reduced. The ascent was slow because there was no point reaching the campsite before our mules. The mules started late. We stopped at every 500 m to catch our breath and wait for the slower ones. The climb is so much easier without luggage but nobody except KC had hired a mule. There were waterfalls which were far away and we were admiring them. Nobody told us he had to trek to them. We crossed actual waterfalls on a narrow and steep path. It was scary because one wrong foot and we could have slipped to our deaths. After 5 hours, we reached the campsite.

There were 2 companies trekking that day and the best site was taken by Indiahikes since their mules reached earlier. Our tent was on sloping ground and the tents were placed close together. As soon as the tent was setup, there was a hailstorm. A bunch of us waited in the dining tent for lunch, which took hours. KC started having altitude sickness which got worse as time passed. He had a bad headache and dizziness. No amount of walking outside, sipping water and wear warm layers made him feel better. The claustrophobic tent enclosure didn’t help matters. Getting sick at 12,000 feet without medical help is very scary. There is no cure to altitude sickness, no medicine or precaution to prevent or cure it. Somehow we got through the night and decided to trek back a day earlier. It was our vacation and if he was unwell and not enjoying himself, there was no point to the vacation. I couldn’t have trekked to Bhrigu lake leaving him alone when he was unwell. We spoke to the trek leader who arranged for a porter to help with the bag and take us down. The trek back took only 2 hours. After 2 hours of wait for our cab and another 2.5 hours drive, we reached Manali and to civilisation with it’s hot showers, clean clothes, good food and a soft bed.

This trek was to check if it’s our thing or not. I loved it. I managed fine without hassles. Being in the beautiful outdoors which can only be reached on foot is amazing. I can only credit my running/gym schedule for making me fit enough to not be a lagger. We weren’t the first ones to reach the top but we were definitely in the 2nd group of people. To do it with 5-9 kg of luggage on your back isn’t child’s play. I will go on more treks, maybe weekend treks from Mumbai and I plan to come back for the Bhrigu lake whenever the weather is most accomodating. For KC, this is it. High altitudes are not his thing.

I leave you with some pictures of the beautiful terrains (can’t upload pics on phone. Will do so in sometime).

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