Those pristine beaches of Gokarna.

Oh boy! It’s been some time since I met new people and roamed around with them exploring unknown places and discovering places of hidden beauty. So I was thrilled as Friday came to get set and go for my Gokarna trek which was to be organized by Redrawlife, the same people with whom I had an amazing monsoon trek in Meesapulimala.

So as I reached Ernakulam South station, I was happy to see Joel and Sreeraj at the entrance. Vishnu was roaming around somewhere nearby and we greeted and talked stuff. And then I saw Manu standing in a corner with none other than Thushara. That was a surprise. No really, once you get to know her back-story of how she almost missed out on this trip, you would have that same astonished and surprised look I had when I saw her. I’ll get back to that story later.

So haan, we boarded the train at around eight and quickly found ourselves looking for some place to sit. Only few of our tickets had been confirmed, rest all were in waiting list and we had to see the TTE and talk to him to see if we could get some seats somewhere. We were to get down in Honnavar at eight in the morning. I found myself standing near the door for a long time initially and I took this time to make new friends and get to know the new faces. Familiar faces were there as we had all conspired in booking this trek together. I vividly remember getting a conference call and talking about the issue of the train timings. Glad it all got sorted out in the end.

So as our train chugged, hunger crept slowly. Few of them found it hard to control and before I knew it I had to open up my packet of Achhappam and Kappa kolli I had brought to snack on the train. All I knew was that I got a few pieces and the nickname Achhappam. Three girls were behind that. Three girls who equally share the doubt of whether it “snows” in Meesapulimala. ROFL. I will be kicked at for writing this but I can’t help it girls. Sorry re.

The train was delaying over time and the night was getting dark and sleepy. The next day would be fun filled so a proper rest would be good. So we waited for the TTE to come but found none. We met the other TTE but our coach was out of his jurisdiction and so he was helpless. So we found ourselves looking for places to sleep in, getting up when rightful owners of those seats come and shoo us away.

Amidst all these Manu and I found a place to sleep but were woken up in Kozhikode. Fearing we would not find any place else, we thought of ways to spend time in the doorway. Luckily Vishnu said there were two berths vacant a bit further and told us to check it out. We did and the next thing we know, we had a hearty and pleasing sleep till six thirty in the morning.

On getting up and seeing the others in their zombie avatars, we felt so nice and didn’t spare a moment to tell the others of our wonderful sleepy night and irk them. Elsewhere bags were piled up on the floor and people were sleeping on top of them too, stacked up like those fishes you see in the fish market, on atop the other, side to side. That was a LOL scene. Even more LOL when you have had the better sleep

So we finally reached Honnavar, a quiet beautiful little station in the Konkan coast. It was raining and we waited for a while for it to stop before we headed to find some buses to take us to Kumta. We were nearly 26 in strength. Wow. That’s quite a number. With bags and tents and a guitar and a guy who plays it. What not.

So we got the bus to Kumta, rushed to the hotel there and had some breakfast. I opted for idly while some experimented with pappad like puris, which were all followed by a good cup of tea. Nice. Here we joined up with Jayanth, Nithin and Jyoti who were from Bangalore and had arrived in bus. From here we were transported to our place of stay in a van and an Omni. Too many stories were shared in that small bumpy ride and we were dropped in a quiet little beach area. They had made arrangements in a homestay for us and this was facing the Nirvana beach. The beach is here guys. Woohoo… finally we are among the beaches of Gokarna. Sweet.

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Nirvana Beach. Our base.

The morning chores were still pending and we took turns and time to finish them. The host was awesome and promptly offered to sell us cigarettes. Nice guy. He knows his customers well. So we were all ready and it was time to hit the beach. Two Frisbees and a beach ball were also brought to max out the fun. We fooled around with them a while and then decided to take a hike to the end of the beach wherein one will find a temple sitting atop a small hill from which one can enjoy an awesome view of the sea and the beach.

It was an overcast day. The sun didn’t show any sign of coming up and was too lazy playing hide and seek with the clouds. Occasionally it would drizzle and the air was full of moisture. The beach was stretching long and on and on. The water was muddy which the locals say is due to undercurrents present. That’s a scary way to describe an awesome and fun loving thing: beach. Duh!

So we walked on through the beach, sometimes wetting our legs in the waters or staying away from it. We finally reached a place and say where we have to reach to. There was the normal path, which was winding and a bit long, the other was more adventurous which needed climbing some slippery rocks. We were not yet in the adventure mode. Meanwhile I was clicking away pictures in Akhila’s new DSLR cam and was enjoying the zoom lens while imparting her with basic essential photography tips and tricks. I hope she puts them into good use.  And somewhere Priya was hanging on to her phone, hoping her parents won’t find out where she is. Wouldn’t it be awesome when your parents call you expecting you to be in Kochi in your flat and get an answer that the subscriber is out of coverage area in Kannada. Scene.

So we reached the top of the small rocky hill and paid a visit to the temple on it. It held some awesome views of the beach and the sea but most of it was obscured by the growth of tall trees. We were tired and sat there and washed our faces and hydrated ourselves before heading back. Our stomachs were rumbling frantically now and I guess they made an extra effort to be heard when someone said there would be fresh fish for lunch. Oh dear, that just tickled my taste buds too.

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A view from the top point of that temple we explored.

Some took the adventurous path down while some of us took a shorter better path. We were happy to see the beach but it lasted a few seconds only cause we could see our destination at a very far off distance and we realized that hunger would make it difficult for us to reach back. I took the time to know the members of Achhappam fans association and aren’t they a jolly lot. Annu (that’s a normal Anu with an extra ‘n’ for added zest and variety), Anku and Gopalan. Paalkaran Gopalan. LOL.

Slowly and steadily and keeping our minds off food, we managed to reach our homestay. It was three in the noon by then. The table was kept waiting for us and we took no time in easing the task for the people there to clean our plates. Hunger in addition to those succulent fish made the food disappear fast and this was followed by the customary yawns after a nice meal. Some of us went to doze off for a while to catch up to the lost sleep the previous night. I was just hanging around with some of the guys and making small talk.

By four thirty, the drizzle came to a stop and some of us decided to go to the other end of the beach and see what’s there. Within fifteen minutes we reached our destination where we saw the local fishermen heaving in their boat from the beach into the safety of the shore. By the looks of it, they were having a tough time executing it using rollers and leverage to push the heavy big boat onto the shore. Some of them shouted out loud when they saw us clicking photos. I really wanted to say to them that voices are not captured in photographs but I refrained myself.

Vishnu had come with us and had put out a plan to pitch the tents from five thirty, so we headed back to start with it. At first we used an area nearer to the beach and directly in front of it. We pitched two tents and found them behaving clumsily in the winds. Our host advised us to find a less windy place to pitch and we found the perfect spot between a tsunami blockade facing the beach and a line of pine trees. Here the winds were calmer and there was security also if the sea thinks of getting rough in the night and drenching us with its cold water in our deep sleep.

Pitching tents was fun. Initially. Pitching 13 tents was becoming tiring. They were to accommodate two of us and people on seeing this started pairing up and choosing the tents. There were three blue tents that were in high demand and Jayanth and Annu were fighting for it. Comedy scenes happening. Meanwhile Annu had somehow managed to befriend an insanely cute little local kid and making conversation with her. Whether she understood or not is totally a different matter. The locals were eyeing us with fascinations as to who are these kids and what are they doing pitching tents here.

The sun went down, night was fast approaching. We had ordered for some beers to merry away the night and they arrived. Chilled beers to enjoy an awesome happy night. Yay. Our host also made provisions for a bonfire and arranged the firewood and all. Darkness crept in and the fire was lit. Bottles were laid out and then distributed. Our guitar hero Sreejith was seated on a chair and told to take away the evening. Loud rounds of cheers and off we go on fun filled musical night.

Songs flowed from everywhere. Songs of joy, friendship, love, happiness and good times. Manu was our main singer and he occasionally brought out a Rahman medley, in which we became so nostalgically immersed. The other Srijith was also a singer and he too sang songs and took up the guitar from this Sreejith to strum for a few songs while he went for a beer. I too joined in with the crew and had lots of fun singing what little I knew of the songs. And then suddenly a string broke of the guitar. But chill, no scene, ensured our guitar hero. He is also a DJ by the way. The next trip he has promised to DJ for us. Yay.

The night was really endless. By ten we were called to have our dinner for which we reluctantly left and after finishing the matter within half an hour, we were back to our campfire. By then our host has asked us to keep our voices down a bit but since that was not gonna happen, he suggested we move more towards the beach front and helped in moving our fire and stuff there. And so here began the second round of music mania. Tessy sat beside and was suggesting to us very old and classic songs but the booze was slowly working its thing on us and the songs were getting smaller and frenzier by time. Some of us took the time to have a late walk on the beach while others decided to sit atop the rocks in the tsunami blockade and enjoy the fun misty glowing view of the sea and the beach.

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Rock on!!!!

Midnight struck and there was a surprise in store. It was Manus birthday and we had planned a cake for him. So we called him near to the beach, rounded him up, lit the candles and asked him to blow them before the wind does. Nirvana beach witnessed a well chorused midnight birthday celebration and we sang the birthday song till he was done with the cake cutting. And I wasted no time in calling up Kurien and asking him to hold Manu by his leg while I held his hands for what’s a birthday without some well placed birthday bumps. And so they followed, some small from the girls side while some large and loud ones from the dudes. I too gave my share and wished him a happy birthday.

We had a trek to undertake the next morning and so it was high time we got some sleep and rest our bodies to prepare for it. We were taking our luggage also with us for the trek for we would be leaving form another part and it would not be feasible to come to our homestay for them. A little bit of fooling around and off we went to sleep.

But before that some funny things happened atop those rocks of the blockade. Manus phone fell into them and on retrieving them, found its display broken. Another seven thousand bucks gone. And so was the lighter which proved to be so sad. Next Ashley dropped his slipper into the great abyss of the rocks and couldn’t retrieve them. Enter Kurien. With outstretched arms he managed to bring it back in one piece. Thank god no crabs found his hand inviting. Some cheers for him and we were finally calling it a night.

But before that Thushara and Tessy were out missing out on a tent. So we teamed up a pitched one of the remaining tents for them and said our goodnights. We snuck in to the comfort of our tent, me and Manu and found it to be warm and cozy. I thought it would be cold and would have to use my bed sheet. But that was not needed. Late night chatting with our loved ones and before I knew it I was asleep.

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I would prefer to gaze at the open skies and count the stars and go to sleep rather than sheep.

I woke up at five thirty in the morning and thought of taking some early morning pictures of the beach and the surroundings. That thought was quickly put to rest by the patter of rain on our tents. It started drizzling and this was reason enough for me to get back to sleeping. I got an hours sleep and we had to leave by nine so I rushed out to do my morning chores and get ready for the day.

And we had a small task in hand too. To roll up the tents we pitched. Easier said than done. Here too rolling up one or two would have been fine but 14 of them is quite tedious. Teamwork and motivation of the breakfast helped us get past the ordeal and wrapped them up. After packing up our bags we went for breakfast. Upma, a bun kinda thing and kesari was served for breakfast. The bun looked tempting and new but it was difficult to gulp it down below your throat. That coupled with some cup of teas and coffees and we were done with our breakfast. Didn’t stuff much for we had to trek.

It was in the morning I took out my camera and I was clicking away pictures of the people. Some wanted good portraits, others wanted candid ones, one wanted with the beach behind them while few tried to dodge my camera. I clicked lots and some of them turned out to be pretty good. And before we started out from our stay, we clicked a group photo. Some missed it though. Sorry for that.

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Say cheers!!!! 😛 😛

Thanking our host and giving him good positive reviews of his stay and food, we started our journey onto the beaches of Gokarna. It was an overcast sky and rain was bound to fall. And it started drizzling no sooner than we started. We had to take a van to reach the ferry point from where we will be ferried down to the other side of the river Aghanashini. That was one ferry ride I will never forget in my life. Just a small boat with us in it and making shenanigans and all. I was skeptical at first but on seeing the chillness with which an elderly couple was sitting, I was relieved and looked forward to it. Effects of watching the movie Ennum Ninte Moideen.

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The ride

Landing in the pier, we were directed to hurry up as we were to cover quite a distance. Or was that a good tactic employed by Vishnu. Will have to ask him only. It started raining fast and still we were told to keep walking. I guess this was going to be a monsoon trek after all. The roads were tarred for a bit and the road wound through some local area, over a climb from which we saw a beautiful view of the river meeting the sea and the impact of their confluence. They were back dropped by a hill beyond which lay nirvana beach. Suddenly I missed the comfort of that beach. The sky was grey and showed no signs of improvement. We walked on. The road became barren and mushy and soaking in water. This was the terrain for a few meters.

Then came a stream crossing in which one had to get their legs wet no matter what you tried. People with shoes were seen cursing their decision to not have taken a floater along. A small exclusive path through the bushes and then some steep climb through someone’s boundary wall, it was all rugged and unknown. You had to have some experience here to navigate the route. Getting lost can be easy here and so we walked in packs.

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Peek – a – boo…..

After quite a while of walking our legs were given a break when we saw paradise beach in front of us. We had reached a vantage point and it seemed as if we were rewarded for our troubles. From this viewpoint the beach looked rocky, with rock outcrops lining the face of the beach. The people who were ahead were seen taking photos and all and enjoying a nice lulling sit in the rocks. It was a good descent and we finally touched the sand. This beach was neatly secluded. It was barren except for the graffiti’s some creative people had drawn up on the rock faces.

All took the time to relax and take the calmness of the beach along with the crashing waves just next to a rock. It was drizzling and it just added to the effect of making the wait worthwhile. Paradise beach is indeed a paradise. I saw a stage like setup when we entered the beach and I guess people come and perform here during the hippie season. Free people enjoying their lives and having fun, sharing love and peace with all on a high mood. I would love to come here at that time and spend some time with those hippies.

We moved on to our next beach which was half moon beach and this was the hardest and most treacherous leg of our trek. Why, because the rains had made the rocks and the path slippery, the rocks the most and we were supposed to tread on them for quite a long while before reaching our destination. We all slipped a bit, lost our footing and were clinging onto vines and creepers for support. People were helping each other out and were taking cautionary steps and establishing a firm foothold before proceeding. The way got narrow at times and had steep climbs and slopes to challenge us.

But in the end we were all successful in conquering them. Yeah Anku got a cut on her foot but that was quickly taken care of. The adrenaline rush fueled with the excitement of the day made us all feel better as we reached half moon beach. This is shaped as a half moon and is guarded by a high rock on one side and the start of a hill on the other side. A perfect seclusion. The beach was very tempting and before we knew it, we jumped into the cool waters of the sea and merrily played away in it for quite a long time. This way we were avoiding the crowd of the popular Om beach while enjoying ourselves. The girls too didn’t waste any time and they too were seen enjoying themselves. Some of their inner child’s had come to life and happiness was seen at their faces. In fact in all faces. All were happy. One could hear the high pitched laughter of Akhila and Priya as the waves crashed on them. In an elated state of bliss.

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Happiness…..

The sun, the sea, the sand and the wind catering just to you, just for you making this experience hand crafted for you, for you do deserve some pampering in this hectic life. Let nature invigorate you; let her show you peace and happiness. Let the greens of the swaying trees and the howl of the winds and the caress of the cold waves show you what you have been missing in your life. A slice of nature. Mother Nature.

Time flew by quick and we reluctantly got out of the beach, dried ourselves and picked up our bags and tents for the next leg. On to Om beach. But before that a short detour. To the sunset viewpoint. Some missed it. You know what you missed. This was one of the crowning moments of our trip. The view from here was splendid. You could see the Om beach in its magnificence, the ‘OM’ properly visible and the sea blending into the sky in the horizon. Eternal beauty. Like that from a photograph of paradise. This was paradise, few knew it. We sat and marveled at the landscape, took pictures and made memories. We made peace with nature.

Down we trekked to reach the comforting sands of Om beach. Destination reached. Hoorah to all. The beach was seeing its fair share of tourists and we were different among them with our bags and tents. The sun had finally come up, was brightly shining and making its presence felt. It was decided that we should head to a café and the sole one was the famous Namaste café. Hunger was there but more importantly thirst and a chilled beer would be awesome and refreshing.

Namaste café was full but we somehow managed to find seats and got a table for us. People were scattered here and there but everyone found someone and sat to dine. We started off with Buds followed by a small take of crispy fried chicken and eggs. Jayanth had suggested we head to Gokarna town and check out this popular restaurant called Prema. We agreed to it. Vishnu came with our certificates and our feedback which will be pasted on their office wall. We all had good vibes to share only so the pen rolled ink merrily while we emptied our beers.

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Destination reached. Well done guys.

We got down, took some pics, helped a group click a clumsy pic that was a super fail and started off to Gokarna town. Om beach was the checkpoint and from here everyone were instructed to reach the railway station by six fifteen to catch the train. It was upto the individual to choose their mode of reaching the station. For us Prema was to be explored, so we took an auto to the town. Here we passed through the path that leads to Kudle beach, the only one we missed out because of time. We passed through the two temples making the town of Gokarna exist with its myriad religious vibe and peace and finally got down in front of Prema. A small restaurant that justifies the saying looks don’t matter. Here we had a go at some amazing food, whether it was chapattis and korma, nutella toast or biriyani. Food was fresh, hot and well priced. Our tummies were happy. So happy.

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Prema restaurant. The place to tickle your taste buds in Gokarna.

So now that our hunger was quelled, we wasted time by chit chatting with each other especially with Jayanth and Nithin as they would be heading over to the bus stand to board their buses back to Bangalore. And in between all this Anku got a dead leg. Oh boy. She was in pain and was finding it difficult to move. On bargaining with the autowallahs, we struck a deal and decided to head to the station in autos as this would be comfy for everyone.

We reached Gokarna Road station by six. The station like all other stations in the Konkan belt was picturesquely beautiful and like that out of a postcard. We met with the other gangs here and waited for the train to come. Luckily we all had confirmed tickets now and we definitely need a good sleep to be able to face the week ahead. The dreaded Monday was coming and its blues were slowly sinking in. the sky became dark; the train arrived and we all jumped aboard.

So our Gokarna trek had come to an end. Scenic secluded beaches, beach camping and partying away, listening and singing songs under a campfire, being wet in the cool monsoon rain, bathing in the sea and floating under the waves, this was a memorable experience. We redrew our life for these two days and we never felt better.

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Take me back there once again for I need to feel the wind in my hair, the sea on my feet and your love in me. Take me back will you!

The train journey saw me teaming up with Manu and Meera to play dumb charades with Anku, Geethu, Thushara and Kavya. Boy wasn’t that fun. Gopalan and Annu joined in between and it became a frenzy of sounds. Ashley too gave a try and felt the fun of it. And this was kept going till the people requested us to lower our voice and switch off the lights. I don’t know from where we had this reserve of energy but it was a nice icing to the cake.

Manu took the time to sing some sweet melodies and lighten the mood before we hit our berths. Monday arrived, so did our exit points. We got off, said our goodbyes and hoped to see each other in some trek or trip. Many new friends made, many things experienced. I was wise and happy. So were the others I guess.

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Blues skies and waters. Oh you lucky horizon.

And that was how we trekked the beaches of Gokarna. Exciting and fun na. Cheers!!

P.S. Oh I haven’t finished yet. I think I am done with our trekking experience. Now on to some fun. He He.

So I take this space to describe why the trip was so fun filled and left an awesome feel in me.

Manu gave us some awesome songs to cherish forever and we reciprocated by surprising him with a delicious birthday cake and then some nice birthday bumps. Thushara was the one who reminded me of his birthday. Did you know she had evaded her ‘Pennu kaanal chadangu’ just to come for the trek? Apparently she was in a company conference somewhere in Karnataka. This was that back story. She did pull it off smoothly and successfully. Cheers to that dear.

Akhila had bought a new camera and we were happily experimenting with it. You should put that zoom lens to better use. Okay. Meera was always herself. Calm and composed and serene and with a good knowledge of old Malayalam movies. It really proved useful for our team. So was Jincy too. Taking time out to bask in the sea and the landscape at times.  And if I ever find the people behind Indulekha’s ad, I will surely recommend Priya’s name and that epic head scratching photo. Maybe they can put that to good use. LOL

And no matter how much you tried to avoid me, I managed to click you Geethu. No escaping my lens. I didn’t know you were a dancer. Next time, you will have to dance. Same goes for Vishnu too. You were a good manager too and gave your best trying to contain this crazy crowd. And a big salute for coming up with Redrawlife. We mallus needed something like this in our lives.  You too Daine. Ha. You might have been able to delete the pics from Akhila’s or Ankitha’s camera but you didn’t know I had my own. Silly bwoy. You too were framed. Kaboom. Kavya was full on selfie clicking, tons of them. Small addiction scene there I guess. Still why do you look so familiar to a person I know?

The chillr duo of Deepak and Tessy were jolly and fun. They have this weird app that does absolutely no new thing than your normal banking app. And still there are users. Tessy was mostly called Tessa or Tess and rarely by her full name, linking her more to Tessa from 22FK. Deepak is my college senior also.

Speaking of college people, there was Sandeep and Hari also. My juniors. Part of the EY gang. Thanks to Sandeep for taking the initiative to procure the beers for the night. Made the night more magical. Hari was chilled and laid back, enjoying the trip at his own pace. The EY group then consisted of Karthika who was fondly called KP and Minitha. Minitha had this typical Kochi slang and it was some time since I heard it. Felt strangely pleasing and reminded me of my time in KV Port Trust. I miss Kochi and my life in Willingdon Island. Also there was Rakhi who was Sandeep’s cousin and had come with him for the trip. I saw her scathing Sandeep while he was taking the list of beers. Ha Ha. LOL.

Then there was Kurien bro. Deep bass voiced guy with a well built figure but a heart of gold, a ‘Lola Hridayan’. Srijith was also well built and these two together could make up formidable bouncers. No wonder the girls had no fear and a sense of security. He also sings and plays the guitar too. Nice. Then there was Ashley. Geekishly nice looking chap. He can be seen roaming here and there and mingling with everyone. The only guy who was seen skyping with his girlfriend in the beach and showing her the beach and surroundings. Such commitment. Awww…….

Then there were the Achhappam fans association. The girls with the Meesapulimala doubt. And what not. Annu was hell bent on being called Annu and not Anu. It was the first thing she did on meeting anyone new. Emphasizing her name. ANNu. Anku was full of stories of this estate and that estate and Kenya and what not. Some big shot girl I guess. Gopalan had a tattoo on her wrist. That was cool. Way cool but not her nickname Gopalan. That needs to change. Otherwise the tattoo will have no influence.

Nithin was part of the Bangalore trio who had joined us in Kumta. He had a nickname and we quickly adopted it. Eapa. Or Eapacha. Nice. And he retorted by suggesting us to call Jayanth by his nickname which on sharing was way cooler than Eapen’s Eapa. Premettan.

Premettaaa….. (In the lustful female voice like in the movies) ROFL. Jayanth succumbed to it. Poor chap. The third was Jyoti. A quiet little jolly girl. She could be seen sitting in offbeat places along the trek and enjoying solitude. Great.

Vinu was seen clicking tons of photos in his camera which turned out really great. Nice going man. And he is an entrepreneur too. Wishing him all the success in his ventures. And lastly our resident DJ cum Guitar hero, Sreejith. You rocked the night bro. You were brilliant at the guitar and gave us the perfect ambience to indulge in our cracking voices. In the future don’t mix Vodka with Rum and Beer. Ok. Makes you tipsy, real tipsy. You wore our Host’s slipper and came out to the tents which saw him follow you and grab it out of you. No more bombs. Apart for that you are awesome. Keep chilling.

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Love you guys. Will miss you all. So let’s plan another trek eh. 😛 😀

 

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