Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 is OUT, 2012 is IN


I remember how I had been keeping on writing Year End Posts last year in the last week of December every few hours and had around 12 posts in less than 7 days with a new post coming up every 12 hours or so and keeping all categories of my readers entertained. Well, I also remember, how on the 3rd day or so, I had started regretting: ‘Why the hell did I make this commitment on the blog?’ Although I knew what I had to write, I just couldn’t keep up with the writings. And something which I already knew dawned on me again- I can write well when I feel like it. The moment I have some pressure, my writing degrades. And so, I was mentally exhausted.

This year, you would be happy and glad to know that I am not going to write so many year-end posts. (If I wish I can, but no, I am not making any commitment this time!) This is the sole post and the last post of 2011 that you are ever going to read on my blog.

For me, this year: 2011, has been crazy, literally! Time flew the fastest this year. My clocks seemed to be running normally all day but every few days I was kept wondering, ‘Another week is already gone?’ or probably ‘It’s exam time again? So soon? How? Where did all the time go?’ I wasn’t surprised when it was 1st December and I was thinking, ‘It’s my birthday month already? How did 12 months pass so fast?’ For the first time, I have the answers to these questions.

This has been a hectic year all throughout, right from day 1 when I saw Hindustan’s Times’ 100 years of Delhi coverage. I have written on many diverse topics this year- emotions, psychology (some psycho ones included), factual, educational, and most importantly entertainment and humour stuff (loads and loads of that) and I feel proud for all of it! (No, this time I am not hyperlinking to all my posts throughout the year via this last post. Thank God! You can get all the links from the blog archive in the sidebar)

My recent introduction to indiblogger.in has brought over  a thousand pageviews this month to my blog. I am always full of blog writing ideas since I have started reading all the many blogs at indiblogger. Needless to say, I have at least 7 blog posts ready in the drafts which I intend to publish over the course of next year at the apt times. This year also saw a diverse range of people visiting the blog and commenting on the posts (that too without the constant SMS reminders that I used to send earlier). It feels really good when I see a good friend’s comments on the blog which they read even without me asking them to. Thank you for your love everyone! J (And now I am also sure of the fact that I wasn’t a ‘wannabe’ when I pleaded my readers to ‘comment’ on my entries- that’s what blog entries are meant for, right?)
 
Keeping this entry short, I wish you a very Happy New Year 2012. May the New Year be full of surprises and bright days to bring cheer to life. Enjoy!

P.S.: This might be the last time I am writing a year-end entry, if the Mayans are to be believed. Any idea if we all shall still be alive at the end of next year? :D

P.S.2: Would love it if you could click here and vote for me. The deadline is 5th January and I need hundreds of votes to win the iPad2. Thanks a lot in advance :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nothing comes free- well, not always!


Dominos delivers pizzas for free if it exceeds the 30 minutes time frame- that’s a well known fact for pizza lovers. But an online book store delivers a book free of cost that too with a ‘Sorry’ card for a delay in delivery- that’s something unheard of. Well, I stand witness to this event today! Haha…

A long research on the life of Steve Jobs led to me asking my dad to get a copy of the biography by Walter Isaacson. He ordered it online from homeshop18.com on December 8 so that it would reach me in 4-5 working days and I could read it while going home on Christmas in the train. The payment had to be done on Cash on Delivery. We waited and waited and waited, but the book never shipped. The homeshop18 people didn’t keep any of the many promises made; none of the threats were paid heed to, and yesterday was the deadline after loads of inconvenience regretted letters from the customer care.

I moved to my uncle’s house this morning. The space reserved for the book in my back-pack was now filled with two water bottles.

In the afternoon I got a call from homeshop18 and they enquired my presence at the shipping address. I gave them my new address and they promised to deliver the book to me by today evening or latest by 4 PM tomorrow. They were shipping it immediately. I asked them to cancel the order in case they are not able to ship it by 4 PM tomorrow. I had my hopes high yet again.

Another couple of hours passed and I got yet another call asking me if I would be available at my home to receive the book around 8 PM today. I said yes. I was also told that I needn’t pay anything for the book when I receive it. I should consider it a complementary copy. I said ok and put down the call. Were these people actually going to provide me a book costing 799 bucks for free?

I told my mom about this new development in the story and added that if this comes true, then it is an amazing make-customer-happy marketing-strategy.

I started the countdown. We had a Christmas party for the kids at home. I passed the time staring at the speed monitor of the torrents being downloaded. I kept on saying ‘1 hour to go’, ’40 minutes to go’, ’15 minutes to go’, ’10 minutes to go’, ting tong…

I checked the door. A man stood with an Oxford University Press paperbag. He handed it to me and said that I should accept it as a complementary gift from homeshop18.com. I controlled my smile till he left and then closed the door after asking him if I needed to sign anywhere and he denied.

I opened the package and finally after a 15 day wait had the Steve Jobs biography in my hand. Well, there was something else in the package as well. I checked it. It was a Thank You card. Inside it was written:


Well, what else can I say? Be it a marketing strategy or the homeshop18 team’s actual sorry, ultimately it led to a happy customer and an unbelievable experience to boast about for sometime! Wow!

P.S.: I originally planned to write an entry regarding the pressure and tension that waiting for an e-order results in. But, I guess it is an entirely different concept now! Haha…

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Last Question


Did the title intrigue you? Well, I think it should. This is one of those rare times when I have the title ready before writing the post- a rare achievement for me, seriously! This title struck me when I was sitting in the bus returning from my exam centre this evening. And the idea for this post struck me at one of the weirdest time possible- when I had just completed writing the answer to the last question in today’s paper.

My third semester exams ended today with the last paper ‘Basics of Camera, Lights and Sound’. The paper had appeared much easier than expected (we were seriously expecting an absurd question paper after the untimely change in the faculty teaching the subject this semester). I had full 50 minutes to attempt the last question, a feat I achieved for the first time in three whole semester exams. And so I was relaxed to write the answer. 50 minutes were just more than enough for one 15-marker. But…by the time I was through with filling up three pages of the answer script, I didn’t feel like writing anymore. Two reasons: One, my knowledge regarding the question’s answer was limited; Two, I was too excited with the fact that the exams were ending and so wanted to get out of the exam hall ASAP so that I can start with the 20 days of the winter break. Haha…

Something really similar had happened in the last exam of the previous semester as well, and the one before that also. At the end of the first semester I had the ‘Basics of Design & Graphics’ paper and had left the exam hall full 30-minutes before the scheduled exam-end time after completing a relatively simple paper. In the second semester, I had ‘Still Photography’ and throughout the paper I was struggling to keep my Rishikesh adventure trip plans at bay till the exam concluded, but of course, an excursion with friends was surely more cheerful and a looking-forward-to thing than a stupid examination! And so, that day as well I had left the exam hall 30-minutes earlier by concluding the last answer ASAP. What I scored in both these papers wasn’t what I would call ‘bad’!

I noticed another more intriguing thing in the exams this time. Whenever I sit for an exam, specially these semester exams, I take out my wrist watch and put it on the left side corner of the table; my wallet at the right side (it’s not-so-comfortable to sit with the fluffy wallet in the back pocket of one’s jeans and write an exam for 3 hours!); 2 blue, 1 black gel pens, 1 pencil and an eraser from my front jeans pocket are placed near the wallet (for easy access during the paper) and if I am wearing a jacket (which I usually do at this time to fight Delhi’s winter), it is placed on the seat beside me. Well, it takes quite a while to place all of them back at their destined locations on my clothes when I am in a hurry to leave the exam hall after writing the answer to the last question of the last paper!!

Another weird thought occurred to me today in those last few minutes. Can I ask the invigilator to click a picture of mine writing the paper so that I can include it in a blog entry regarding this? Well, I am glad I didn’t ask that! :D

Do let me know if you have had some such weird experiences and thoughts in your exams as well. Enjoy!
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Monday, December 12, 2011

It’s a hap, hap, happy birthday: New Delhi’s bday, my bday…


I have been preparing this entry for a long time now. 11 months and 11 days- to be precise! It all started on Day 1 of 2011 when I saw the exclusive page in Hindustan Times regarding the centenary celebration of New Delhi this year. What caught my attention was the fact that India’s capital and I shared a common birth date (sans the year, of course- That’s a huge 80 year gap!) Of course at that time I hadn’t planned for any blog entry regarding this; this idea came up sometime last week only! :D

So, what all happened on the 12th of December?

1901: Guglielmo Marconi (Yes, Radio ke pappaji) received the first transatlantic radio signal at Signal Hill in St.John’s, Newfoundland. At least this is what Google tells me!


1911, Coronation park, Kingsway camp, Delhi- Here on the 12th Day of December 1911, His Imperial Majesty King George V, Emperor of India accompanied by the Queen Empress in solemn Durbar announced in person to the Governors, Princes and People of India his Coronation celebrated in England on the 22nd day of June 1911 and received from them their dutiful homage and allegiance. On this occasion the King announced the transfer of the capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi. I source this to Wikipedia!

I captured this at the Sheikh Sarai Crossing. Similar
hoardings are a common sight in Delhi this month.
The transfer of capital also meant that Delhi required a facelift from the existing Chandni Chowk and Sahajahanpur area. And so, the foundations of the new capital New Delhi were laid. Delhiites going around on the roads or following Hindustan Times must be aware of this. This is the reason why so many festivals are taking place in the capital this month (I have attended the Food Festival at Baba Kharak Singh Marg. The Youth Festival at Central Park, CP might have had me in attendance had its theme and events been not-so-‘un’youth-like. What about you?) It’s Happy Birthday to New Delhi today!

1970: Kingsway Camp was official renamed as Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar on December 12, 1970 by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

1949: Rajnikanth was born. (Anna Rascalla, mind it! [:D])

1981: Yuvraj Singh was born. (His recent news of lung tumour was disturbing surely, hope he recovers soon)

1991: The Russian Federation gained independence from USSR. Yes, Google tells me this happened on 12th of December 1991. Of course this wasn’t the biggest happening of the day because on that day at 6.15 PM IST, I was born and so, I contributed to the ever increasing population of the world! :D

Coming up next is the year 2012, which as per Mayan calendars would bring an end to the world (if a recent Times of India article is not to be believed) somewhere around December 12, 2012 (Yes! It’s 12-12-12 [:D]) I would just be 21 then!

Come on now, what are you waiting for? There are so many people (and places) you need to wish a happy birthday to! Go ahead, start with me… :D
P.S.: Thanks to my University’s wonderful scheduling of the third semester exams, I won’t be available on phone from 2-5 PM today as I would be busy filling up pages of the answer-script of my Print Journalism’s paper (and scratching my brain for another point that I might be missing from the many responsibilities of the sub-editor of a newspaper like The Verity or probably thinking of differences between editing and proof-reading!!)

Friday, December 09, 2011

From ‘Dilliwalas’ to ‘Delhiites’- a journey of 100 years!


I wrote this article for my college magazine 'Jhankaar' as part of the 100 year celebration of New Delhi as the capital of India. Take a look. Is this how you have always known Delhi?

Delhiites say that ‘dilli ka hawa pani different hai” and I agree. Once you move to Delhi, you neither like to stay at the place for long nor are you able to stay away from it. Because, for someone who has moved from any place of the country to this most rapidly growing and fast moving city, the experience is nothing less than ‘bliss’. Families have stayed here for generations and have seen the ever-changing city right from the time when Raisina Hill or Lutyen’s Delhi was the sole recognition of the capital. With the changing times, malls and multiplexes have taken the place of museums and monasteries and have changed the people’s perception of this historical city. The Delhiites love their city!

100 years ago, this face of New Delhi was no where to be found. The city of ‘Dilli’ was synonymous with the Chandni Chowk, the Red Fort, the Humayun’s Tomb and other such places of historical importance. Qutb Minar stood in a distant village called Mehrauli. Shahjahanabad was a small village somewhere in today’s North Delhi. And then the Britishers came and the landscape changed.



On December 12, 1911, at the Coronation Park in Kingsway Camp (now known as Guru Tegbahadur Nagar) King George V announced the shifting of India’s capital from Calcutta to a to-be-constructed ‘New’ Delhi. Nearly 20 years after that, on February 10, 1931, a sunny day after three days of rain and cloudy weather, Viceroy of India Lord Irwin formally inaugurated New Delhi at 11 am. The grand new capital was finally complete. The Viceroy’s House (Rashtrapati Bhavan), the North and South Blocks, the Council House (Parliament House) joined the Kingsway (Rajpath) and Central Vista at the end by the All India War Memorial (India Gate).

Hindustan Times in one of its article says about the development of the new capital as a people’s city: “Till the 1940s, New Delhi would turn into a ghost town after sunset and on holidays. Apart from houses for the top ranking officials and Princes, residences were not built in New Delhi. Those who came to work here would return to their homes in the Walled City (the Old Delhi area) or suburbs. The tide changed when, unable to cope with the congestion in ‘old Delhi’, its residents started moving south towards New Delhi. Those who came after Partition populated areas like Rajinder Nagar and Lajpat Nagar. Huge vacant land was allotted in the 1960s to families, which migrated from East Bengal in 1947. This area was called EPDP (East Pakistan Displaced Persons) colony that was later renamed Chittaranjan Park.”

The Delhi that we know today had its beginning in the 1910s itself. With the British Raj relocating to Delhi, it brought along officials and employees from all parts of the country. None of them were Dilliwallahs in the old sense but all of them made Delhi their own, creating the multi-ethnic Delhi of 2011 and became the Delhiites. 


So are you celebrating with Delhi, dear Delhiites?
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

The onset of winters @ PVR Saket


The onset of the winters was never so late in the four years that I have spent in Delhi. My third semester final practicals are underway and on waking up this Monday morning I could feel the chill of the winter air for the first time this season. I have always loved winters mainly for two reasons. One, it is more comfortable to cuddle up inside the blanket and sleep for hours at a stretch than cooling oneself down in front of the AC. And two, onset of the winter, brings hope and excitement for my birthday! (Check the time, it’s December already! Start planning surprises for me! [:D])

Sitting inside the blanket on my rajai-converted into low-floor sofa, and typing this entry on my Dell Inspiron 15R N5010 which is providing warmth by blowing hot air from the PC-fan onto my left hand occasionally, I am thinking about the fun-day that has been today- a holiday from college and an early morning expedition with a college-mate to catch the morning show of Desi Boyz at PVR Saket at a mere expenditure of 50 bucks (per head, mind it! [:D])!

Not having a TV at my accommodation and having lost touch with the TV-viewing experience for almost four years now, I get to know about new releases quite late, literally. And that happens mainly from discussion with my friends, review in the newspapers (The Hindu hardly has any taste for bollywood news, seriously! [:D]) and of course, facebook! The way I got to know about this particular movie, was however, different and unique!

A good friend calls up and asks me if I would like to go to DLF Promenade, the next day, where the starcast of Desi Boyz including John, Akshay, Deepika and Chitrangada were making an appearance. I instantly agree and launch a Google search for ‘Desi Boyz’. “Oh, all right, so this is an upcoming film set to release on 24th and the cast is on its way for some promotion. Would be a great chance to see them,” I think.

Desi Boyz starcast visit at DLF Promenade, 17-11-2011
And on 17th November, my friend and I reach the mall sharp at 4, the scheduled arrival time of the cast, go through the security arrangements and take our places with the ever-increasing crowd of people. We wait for a full hour and then finally, a 10-minute appearance is made by the four members of the Desi Boyz cast. Getting a glimpse of bollywood actors, is something we Indians crave for and are crazy about. And here, Akshay and John were actually prancing to the tunes of the amazing soundtrack of the movie. Having got to know about the existence of this movie just a day before, I had never given a thought to hearing the songs of the film. The one-hour wait in the midst of crazy fans and huge speakers continuously blaring songs from the film, made sure that I go home and download all the songs and give an ear to them. Well, I was in love with the tune! :D

About watching the film today at PVR? Well, the Dhawans know what they need to do to set the Indian stage on fire! The glum 2-minute introductory scenes of the movie regarding inflation were surely given a huge dampening the moment the storyline with our heroes started. What a bike John rides, WOW! Akshay’s scooter should be a fun ride as well! [:D] I wouldn’t go into the details as that would give spoilers regarding the plot of the movie to many of my readers and I, of course would not like to spoil their pre-movie-watching excitement. (And those who have already seen it, I guess, you know I don’t need to explain! [:D])

Being a media-student and having learnt, this semester, how to handle a movie camera, the initial bird’s eye shot of London and the many jib camera shots throughout the film, could be easily recognized from the technical point of view by me. The hooting that Sanjay Dutt’s entry received and the understanding of the seriousness of the scene on the entry of our favourite Omi Vaidya (of course, pun intended) supplemented the wonderfully-written dialogues of the film. From getting the audience to laugh at the very critical moments to signifying the emotional bondage shared between the father-child, boy-girl and of course, two best friends’ relations, junior Dhawan does it wonderfully. My personal favourite was the choreography of the song ‘Allah maaf kare’ in the college classroom. Should I call it a joke or a serious choreography? :D

I read an interview with the director of the movie in Delhi Times where he had said, “This is a movie about the chemistry shared between two best friends. We made the movie with the intention that you would come out of the theatre and call up your old buddies and tell them ‘I miss you man’”. Well, nothing like that happened after I left the hall but yes, I was wondering, are friends like the ones portrayed in the film possible in real life? If yes, then I would love to have one.

After two hours of non-stop laughter and while enjoying a McChicken Brunch at the nearby McDonalds, my friend and I discussed the prospects of suddenly getting sacked from our jobs in the media industry in the future in case of another serious economic meltdown. Should we gear up for some muscle-building and start gymming now so we are left with at least one job? Haha… :D

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How times have changed since 26/11


“Kal raat Mumbai ke Taj Hotel mein terrorist attack hua”

“Aur CST aur Oberoi Hotel mein bhi”

I was sitting in my school bus staring out of the window while going to Kalu Sarai for my coaching class, when I heard these words from my seniors. This was on the afternoon of Thursday, November 27, 2008. The next four hours passed without any discussion regarding the topic until I was in the bus again, returning to hostel. And now I knew this was something serious.

Getting down from the bus at 9 PM and rushing to the dining hall to serve our PCM/B-fed (read Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics/Biology- we were all IIT/AIIMS aspirants after all!) starved stomaches some delicious food (We were then told that DPS VK Hostel’s food was incomparable to any other hostel in the country. Now I do not doubt this! I actually gained weight there!) would have been considered normal on any other day.

But this day was different. The entire boys’ hostel was headed to the rec room (that’s what we termed the ‘Recreation Room’). The TV was switched on. The channels were flipped. 9XM and V were given a miss today. The surfing didn’t even stop on ESPN for Sports Centre. For a change, we, the boys, flipped over to the news channels! Yes, the many news channels! We were part of the millions across the country watching a LIVE terror attack! Switching through all the news channels some showed how the entire attack had begun the previous night through animations, names about to be immortalised including that of Hemant Karkare were flashing on the screen, and the world was watching.

The guard (I don’t remember if it was Rana bhaiya or Kirkitta bhaiya that day) came in and called us to have our dinner first, but we were hardly bothered for food at that time. We contacted our warden and got an extension till 11 PM to be in the rec (which was otherwise only seen during India’s cricket matches or when ManU and Chelsea were on for the last goals) and watched as CRPF personnel reached the Taj which was already on fire.

I have no idea what the scenario was at the adjoining girls’ hostel’s rec room that day. It must be something similar. The biggest event of the day was however on the boys’ side: Yes, we the boys were actually watching news, without any worry for the upcoming CPT (Common Practice Test) or Phase Test! Aim IIT and PMT were completely forgotten for some moments!

Kasab was not known to Indians then. Neither was this known that he would be caught alive and given the best of world-class services by the Indian government. Nobody then gave it a thought that he would still be alive three years from what was going to be termed as 26/11- the biggest terror attack that the world had seen since 9/11!

None of us was aware of the fact that a year from now, DPS VK would be remembering this day- 26/11- for another and a much more closer-home reason, for the loss of its founder Principal Mr Vinay Kumar. I never had any conversations with the man except one which was after I had won the CBSE Science Exhibition 2009 in October-end that year. But still, the loss was felt throughout the walls of the place that I and my friends call ‘heaven’. This had come as unexpected and that too on a completely unexpected and eventful day.

I, a Computer Engineering expectant at one of the Indian Institute of Technology, didn’t know [then] that three years from now, I would be sitting in the comforts of my home, typing this blog entry at a blog which nobody ever cared to visit [then], and would be preparing for my third semester exams for a degree in journalism and mass communication. How times have changed!
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Time for some LIVE talks, on second thoughts



Hello readers and welcome to the refreshed ‘on second thoughts…’

Yeah, I know, you as my regular reader must be wondering why the above salutation and change in the way of presentation of an entry here at my blog? Well, to you and to my non-regular readers as well (some of whom are reading this probably because they were curious to know what this is about after reading the post-title or probably because they have come across this entry accidentally), I would just answer: Continue reading and find out... :D

Actually, I need to make an important announcement and so I thought a new post should be able to garner more readers and hence, learners. I am sure you have already noticed the few changes that have taken place over the past few days in the content of my blog. A toolbar has been added at the bottom of your screen and probably you have noticed some ads as well scattered around the site. Yes, I have been experimenting. And while experimenting sometimes great ideas come into the thoughts of an individual’s grey matter piled up in the cerebrum.

Time for the big announcement:
Keeping in view the increasing readership of this blog over the last months (Check the chart in the pic that Google provides me- Stats for my blog), I have decided to increase the interaction with my audience directly on this blog. Starting 18th of November 2011, you can visit my blog ‘on second thoughts’ at http://antarik.blogspot.com and chat LIVE with me every Friday from 10 PM to 11 PM regarding any recent/old posts that I have made or any topic/issue that you feel is worth discussing. Probably the Journalist-in-making in me would be able to provide you some info/views regarding some recent happenings in the world. Or probably, the Blogger in me would be able to answer your queries regarding blogging and how to attract readers (that’s what I am trying to do right now, isn’t it? [:D]). In short, this would be a platform for LIVE interaction of any visitor to my blog with me, the author and other readers present online at the same time about anything and everything.

How to go about it?




In the ‘wibiya’ toolbar that you see on the bottom of your screen whenever you open this blog, open the option to ‘Join Chat’ and login with one of the many accounts that it supports. You shall see me online every Friday from 10-11 PM, logged in with my name ‘Antarik’ (I do not guarantee that I would be offline at all other times! So, it’s worth a look at other times as well!). You can either start chatting on the public (visible to all) wall in the chat window or you can send me a private chat message if you want the contents of the chat to remain between you and me only. That’s it! Simple, isn’t it? J

Please note: In case you post any abusive/vulgar/inappropriate content in the chat forum, you shall be warned only once and on repetition of the offence, banned from the chat.

So that is it. Straight and simple put forth to my readers. Hoping to have a wonderful time interacting with you all LIVE. My fingers are crossed for 18th 10 PM. See you then! :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It All Ends- 11.11.11


The date was 11.11.11, not significant other than how it looked with the 1’s, but at 4.45 PM that afternoon, I had in my hands the last Harry Potter DVD delivered to me (from flipkart.com) on the day of its international release, thanks to the pre-order I placed a week back. I held the DVD in my hand, looked at it and kept it aside. The reason? This was the last thing that I was looking forward to in the whole of the Harry Potter book and movie franchise and now I had it in my hands. Yeah, I was happy because I laid my hands on it on its very day of release, when hardly people across the world have bought it and seen the movie. I was one of the firsts. But, I didn’t want this to end. I just didn’t want this to end.

11.45 PM: I inserted the bonus features disk into my DVD-ROM. ‘Awesome’ was the sole word to describe the features. Somewhere somehow the feeling of ‘The End’ persisted throughout the amazing 90-minute extra content on the disk.

2 AM (12/11/11): I inserted the movie disk. Yeah, this was the last movie. I saw it on the big screen on Harry’s birthday- 31st July 2011. And I so eagerly wanted to see the movie again. Now, I saw it… I understood it…I felt it…exactly as any other die-hard Potter fan would do.

3:45 AM: The movie ended. Harry, Ron and Hermione waved their final goodbyes to their kids, to the Hogwarts Express, to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, to Hogwarts Castle, to the millions of fans worldwide and to me. The scene made my eyes moist for the second time. And I had just one thing in my mind and heart:

There is nothing to look forward to now. It all ends here.

The end-credits are on. The sorrow in Alexandre Desplat’s composition is vivid. And I am sure of one thing:

You were and will always remain one big and important part of me. It’s you, due to whom I am where I am today. I am going to miss you Harry Potter…

Also read: It all ends, when you think it does!
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Monday, November 07, 2011

5-star or no-star: You be the judge!

How many times have you opened the newspaper on Fridays to check the reviews of the just-released movie? How many times have you enquired if it is a four-star rated or just a two-star one? I remember doing this when I started reading the newspaper in class 7 or 8 (although I didn’t know then that movies are generally released on Fridays only, and so, I used to search for the reviews everyday!) and so I am sure, you have done this some time or the other. But do you think these star-ratings done by newspapers which we blindly trust, are actually trustworthy? If TOI rates Ra.One as a ‘above average’ and HT gives it a ‘2-star’ rating, what do you perceive?

The much-hyped Bollywood’s costliest movie Ra.One released on Diwali day. (Well, I don’t think I need to explain what kind of reviews it has received over the last two weeks; everyone seems to be aware of that!) And going with the reviews (spread over the papers, news channels, internet etc), I seriously never gave a consideration to watching this movie on the silver screen, something which I had thought I might do after the release. My Jaipur trip followed Diwali. With my aunt’s urge to see the interiors of the popular ‘Raj Mandir’ theatre of the Pink City and my young cousin’s insistence on watching the movie, even I thought why not give this ‘flop’ movie a try?

The experience at Raj Mandir was unforgettable! Seriously! Wait, wait, wait…you got it wrong, if you thought I saw Ra.One there. No! The experience was unforgettable because we stood in the queue for a full hour and a half on the night of Thursday, 28th of October, to get tickets for the 9.30 PM show (It was no PVR or DT and so no online booking, sorry!) and then returned to our hotel without even being able to enter the theatre. Well, that was the first time I saw a real ‘HOUSEFULL’ signage at a 1,000-seater movie hall! I was in fact shocked to see the happiness and excitement in the eyes of the few ‘lucky’ ones who were able to get tickets for the show, and yes, that was what they considered themselves- lucky- not for being able to watch the movie, but for finally being able to enter Raj Mandir after days of waiting in the queue at the ticket counter! I was awestruck. Such is the fame of a single-hall theatre! Wow!

Consider it luck or pure chance, I found myself seated at the McDonalds restaurant at Basant Lok, PVR Priya complex, Vasant Vihar, today morning and enjoying the breakfast menu of McD. I was on for a realization and immediately sent a text to my family: Sitting at the same McD where I first sat 12 years ago. Yes, in October 1999, I was in Delhi and had my first visit to a McD. My toy-collection had been initiated then as an 8 year old. (And believe it or not, it is still on whenever I get a chance, although I am about to be 20 in a few weeks time! [:D])

The reason I was seated there? Haha… yes, I was waiting for my family who had got me tickets (without informing me) for PVR Priya’s 11 AM show of Ra.One. So I was finally seeing what I myself termed as a ‘pathetic’ and ‘bakwaas’ movie. Mind you, I had no facebook status updated regarding this, nor did any of my friends know about it, chiefly due to two reasons. One, I hadn’t got a chance to tell anyone. Two, I wanted to avoid the shame of actually going and watching an accepted and known ‘pathetic’ and ‘over-hyped’ film. I guess the very fact that I am dedicating a blog entry to the movie is proof enough about what I felt regarding it post-viewing. (Apart from Potter, only one movie has ever qualified to be featured on my blog, and that seems to be the toughest competitor of Ra.One right now! Any guesses which that is? Click here to know)

I have noticed that somehow I have been one who has had the liking for movies that receive a thumbs down by the majority of the masses. And that was what I was thinking, when I put the 3D glasses on in the balcony of Priya. (It wasn’t hard to notice that the four rows of seats in front me were vacant, literally!) The movie started and it wasn’t difficult to understand the intentional use of punch-lines and famously accepted SMS jokes taking the form of the written script, dialogues and screenplay. The visual effects were not hard to grasp and were a clear simulation of a video game environment (that’s what the movie is all about anyways). From the rolling of ten cars in the air at once and crumbling down of the Indian version of the Statue of Liberty (Statue of Victoria, it is!) and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, it was awesome use of visual imagery and a full-to entertainment. That’s what hindi-movies are made for, right?

One thought while I was moving out of the hall: Never judge a book by its cover and never judge a movie by its review. Be your own judge and review movies yourself! :D

My rating: 3.5/5 (Now will you accept my review?) ;)

P.S.: Even movies like Udaan, Pyaar ka Punchnama, Khichdi, Karthik Calling Karthik, Jail and Paathshala, were liked by me unlike movies like Bodyguard, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which actually created a stir at the box-office. What’s your take? ;)

P.S.2: I thought of taking a major step a few days back: Taking a break from blog writing, as I found my quality of writing deteriorate. By any chance, have I made a come-back through this entry? 5-star or no-star: You be the judge! :D

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

'Mother India' delivers 'Nargis', or does she?

It was sometime in June-July this year (during my internship) when the first news of the seven-billionth baby being born in India flashed on news channels. The baby who would be taking the world’s population to a total of seven billions was going to be born in Uttar Pradesh sometime in October 2011- that’s what the news said. Well, I wondered, how could anyone be so precise?

India sees the birth of 51 babies every minute- a rate which no other country matches, not even China. According to this, I guess there must be at least a 100 births taking place every minute in the whole world. Surely there is no system that records the birth of each and every child on the earth as soon as the child is born! How then the news channels were so sure that the 7-billionth Baby would be most likely born in UP (as it is the most populated state of the country)?

When I pass over the AIIMS flyover, I always take a glimpse at the counter which counts the population of India 24x7. (Any idea how that works?) Do the births actually get registered immediately and with such a constant frequency that the counter seems to be increasing at a constant pace for as long as you can see it?

Today the newspapers had a variety of front page leads, the most prominent news item being the birth of a baby girl, Nargis, in Lucknow, who was now the 7-billionth citizen of the world. My copy of The Hindu had been slid under the door and as I opened my eyes lying on the bed, I saw the headline distinctly:

We are seven billion now

I picked up the paper and saw that it was a five-column story with a large picture. Beside it was a two-column story with the picture of a baby girl (Nargis) headlined:

Birth of Nargis raises hopes &; fears for nation’s future

Well, seven out of eight columns and almost two-third of the front page being dedicated to just one thing: Nargis! Wow! This was surely big news! I went through both the stories quickly and was awed when I saw the last lines that gave the links to other related stories inside the paper:

Editorial: Seven billion and counting
Cheers fears across world: International Page
The population story in pictures: Back Page

This was BIG!! A serious newspaper like the Hindu was focussing so much on one story! This was really BIG!

Well, I wondered again: How do you know that this is the 7 billionth baby?

Later in the day I came across other newspapers. Hindustan Times had the Nargis tale as its anchor story (supposedly the softest and the least impact story of the front page) with the headline:

Nargis is India’s 7 billion symbol, or is she?

The headline intrigued me to read further. It said even demographers had no idea if the population of the world had reached the 7-billion mark but the UN had decided to celebrate 31st October 2011 as the day for the birth of the 7-billionth citizen of the world and so the world was celebrating. Well, that made a little sense. But then, my question still remained unanswered: How do you know that Nargis is the 7 billionth baby?

The Times of India surprised me. It just had a brief on the first page with a link to the Nation page for the full-story.

For the record: UP’s Nargis is world’s 7 billionth citizen

Surely HT and TOI didn’t consider this story as important as The Hindu thought it was!

Even if we accept what the UN said, how can we accept that it was Nargis and not some other child that became the 7-billion mark setter? Is it just because of a huge and powerful media in the country that is influencing the people to accept it? Do let me know what you feel.


Before I bid adieu till the next entry, take care and take care of the now 7-billion+ population of the world. I wonder till how long now, the earth would be able to take care of the mounting pressure! And lastly, Nargis! Grow up, realize your worth, and make India proud! :)
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Monday, October 24, 2011

On a quest to Discover the Confused Me


“I have been extremely busy with my work and that is why I have been unable to talk to you.”- Isn’t this the lamest excuse you would give to your best friends when you call them up after almost a month of no-talking, calls not answered by you and messages not replied by you, and you still expect that they would understand? Well, I wouldn’t take that! But I am really glad that I have a set of friends who actually ‘do’ understand that. Probably I knew that they would understand this when I pressed the ‘Silence’ button on my cell phone when they called.

If I put myself in their shoes, well, no, I wouldn’t take that excuse. That is lame. How can you not take time out for people who have mattered to you so much and you know that they still do? Well, I guess if I react that ways, they would be left helpless and regretting, because, probably they actually were ‘busy’.

My internals ended on September 23rd and then started a four-week long unpredicted schedule of never-ending work. Well, they did end, but then, four-weeks are not something small! These four weeks have been really wonderful and experience-full if I see it in the professional point of view- I have learnt a lot in this time frame alone. Along with my group of friends, I have made a complete newspaper from scratch. I held the movie-camera for the first time in a real movie-shoot, something which I had been dreaming for at least 5 years now and which was my primary reason for taking up mass communication at the undergraduate level. I made a radio travel feature after recording in a real studio at college. And yes, not to forget, I have attended all classes over these days.

For the ear, these things seem very pleasant and believe me, when you are actually doing so much work which you love, you start feeling professional and professionalism slowly takes over you. Aren’t professional people supposed to be busy? Well, I guess, if they do, then its time that they learn to maintain an equal amount of dedication towards their personal lives as well.

These four weeks have been really bad for me when I see it in the personal life context- I have given my work super-more importance than my friends and family. In the race to be the best, I forgot to keep track of the very people who brought me here, and preferred to concentrate on doing my work and work alone. Well, I guess, I didn’t have any other option also. I had to work!

Somehow this four-week period has brought in much more professional thinking in me than I desired or thought of. I don’t know if it is doing me good or not, but yes, at least now I know what to do and what not to and how to balance this professional vs personal spheres.

You are walking down the road less taken. You meet many people on your way who have taken the same road. You overtake them effortlessly and without your knowledge. The King Lion gets to know about you. He sees you as a tiger amongst leopards. He instructs his ministers, the elephants, to keep a close eye on you. To help you on your path at all times. In the process, you are given the best works, the big responsibilities. The King gets to know you better, and you become his favourite. Slowly you take up more and more work. You love to do them. You love to serve the king. You keep yourself busy. One day suddenly you realize, amidst all the work, it wasn’t just your ability that was improving; it was also the elephants’ work that was decreasing. You were already doing work which you needn’t have done at all. The elephants are happy that their work is getting done without any efforts by them. You fail to understand that. And when you realize that you regret that!

(‘What am I writing?’- That’s the exact thought that just crossed my mind. I seriously don’t know why I am writing all this! And how mad are you that you are still going on reading all this crap! This isn’t the story of Simba-The Lion King! :P)

I guess I know what all this is. The confusion and frustration that I have been through over the past few days, has come out in a confused format from my frustrated mind. And if you are not confused even now, then I guess it’s wrong when we say If you can’t convince them, confuse them!

I wonder why my blog-writing has deteriorated so much! I seriously believe that this entry comes in just because I saw the last entry on this blog was 16 full days ago and I desperately felt like updating it! (I know that’s real lame! But I am surprised, you read this till the end!)

P.S.: Tell me, was this actually a quest to discover the confused me? Or you got confused in the process?  :D
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Saturday, October 08, 2011

UB 27 B5 12426 Jammu Tawi - New Delhi Rajdhani Express


Writing this entry has no particular aim. Probably I am writing this because there has been so much happening in these two days of my Vaishno Devi trip or probably because amidst so many assignments, I haven’t found time to pen down a few words on my blog since days, or probably it is the tension of my broadsheet (say ‘newspaper’) getting completed on time successfully and with the best quality that is keeping me awake right now.

The past two weeks have been extremely tiring. Yes, I won’t deny that. But somehow I feel I have been able to balance my time well (I seriously wonder why I am saying that!) One thing that has happened for sure is that now I am learning to work qualitatively without taking much tension or I should say I am learning to cope with mental pressure. Whatever it is, it is doing good to me (or so I feel).

A 19 year old boy got lost at midnight somewhere in the 12.5 kilometre path on his way back from the shrine of Vaishno Devi. He got separated from his parents and sister and for an hour and a half each party was deeply scared and looking for the other one. The severe pain in the muscles of each one was completely forgotten. The absence of prepaid mobile networks and public address system in the vicinity fuelled the anxiety. All of them now know how the almighty had shown his power and separated and reunited them, with none of them having any idea why and how what was happening. Yes, the 19 year old boy is the author of this blog.

Having seen many songs on TV, since my childhood, which were shot at Vaishno Devi, I was quite excited about the 12 kilometre uphill walk and entering the shrine after crawling through a cave. The cave has been closed in recent years due to the huge number of footfalls and visiting the place after almost 6 hours of uphill walk drained all energy out from me and I wasn’t in the mood of protesting to open the cave for me. Saying this sounds stupid and idiotic, isn’t it? Amd by any chance do you have any idea why “let’s rock” followed my thought process every time I said “Jai Mata Di”? :P

Two nights back I was sitting in the New Delhi- Jammu Tawi Rajdhani Express and had loads of pending college work to complete. I needed my laptop, internet connection and a power backup for its successful completion. All was well until the moment I discovered that the plug points in the whole coach were not functioning and that left me with 21 minutes of laptop usage. I wrapped up the half-completed works (all related to the broadsheet I am doing as a college assignment) and prepared to mail it to my designer friend. As soon as I got the zip file attached to the email and clicked the send button, the mail got sent and my laptop got shut down. Was a wonderfully awesome timing, seriously! :D

Right now I am sitting on Upper Berth, seat number 27, Coach B5, Jammu-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and my laptop says the time is 10.50 PM and I feel I should sleep now. Now I realize- probably I wrote this entry just to feel the thrill of writing a blog inside a train and my readers have probably guessed by now that this was a pathetically boring entry (Although this implies that they read it till the last line!) :D

Bon Voyage!
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Time Out!


Loads of work, college assignments, exams and a surprise at my rediffmail inbox this evening, supplemented with the ever-changing look of facebook, a wonderful end-semester exam datesheet and the worry that I won’t be able to send more than a hundred text messages a day starting Tuesday- everything is forcing me to delay and re-delay and re-re-delay an entry on my blog. And I am sure if I do not start writing right now, this would get re-re-re-delayed as well!

The Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to implement the maximum 100 messages a day scheme from 27th. It is a compulsory step and every telecom provider has to adhere to it. Well, today’s Times of India’s article cleared some ice regarding this. The customers who use texts to communicate are going to face the bars while the telemarketing giants who cannot spend a day without flooding our inboxes with their idiotic ‘Personality Development classes’, ‘Property in Noida’, and ‘Bank loans and insurances’, would be able to continue doing the same. There is no restriction for them! It is again we, the customers, who need to register for the Do Not Disturb-DND-directory to block those texts on our cells. Well, two days back my friend got a text from Vodafone (his service provider) saying that since he wanted to receive bank account details, he needs to opt out of the DND service. Isn’t it WOW? And what if we need to send an urgent text and our 100 messages for the day are over?

I got to know my end-semester date sheet today. My fear of having an exam a day after my birthday has finally left. The easiest of the four subjects on the birthday (although I scored the lowest in that subject in the last semester!) and an exam two days away from it- I couldn’t have asked for a better datesheet.

It seems my workload wasn’t enough. I have been trying- slowly but surely with some pace- to complete all work ASAP and then concentrate on certain things that I want to do! And at this moment I receive a surprise email for which I have been waiting for a month and a half now! Well, the work has to take a backseat right now and my concentration turns to Pottermore. I am finally in Rowling’s virtual universe! Yes!!

I had a wonderful start to the second year of my college, with no assignment for weeks and great changes in the college environment (I guess that’s a big euphemism!) And now, a day after my first internals got over, I am left with no time to stand and stare. [To be truthful, there is a whole lot of time to stand and stare (intentional pun-catch it!) actually- because that’s what I and my friends have been doing in the classes of the whole semester and nobody seems to be caring enough to notice that!] Anyways, thanks to some latent forces and unspoken inhalations, my friends and I are kept on going with our works and are always striving to be the best.

The TV has been tuned in to Just Dance’s Semifinal episode and the aroma of the cooked menu is attracting me towards the dinner table. And I have less than an hour’s time right now to be able to attend an online conference. And somehow after a long time, I am feeling satisfied with a blog entry- I feel I have been able to write well and I would like you to decide that. And even after being aware of the fact that use of conjunctions to start a sentence is not considered good, I am still doing that. Old habits die hard.

Well, had my net connection not failed a few minutes back, probably I would not be writing this entry right now. And would still be wondering when I would get the time to post a new entry to my blog. Since it has always been your views that have kept me going, I look forward to your comments and yes, for some TIME OUT!
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Monday, September 12, 2011

The fake and the real in Celluloid


Interviewer: “How many friends do you have?”
Answer: “You mean friends in real life or facebook or what?”

The screening of Online and Available
This was a dialogue from a documentary I saw today titled “Online and Available” at the PSBT Open Frame Film Festival 2011.  I don’t know how this dialogue had the power to evoke huge laughter in the whole auditorium. Probably because, almost everyone sitting there could identify themselves with giving a similar answer to such a question! And yes, I was amused to the extent that I set-off on writing this blog entry which I had originally planned some 2 months ago while I was doing my internship and Google Plus had just entered the social networking market!

Today is the 12th of September- a day which I would probably never forget during my entire lifetime. This was the day, 7 years ago, when I had founded JATC- the children’s club in my colony! And I am actually surprised, that I was not part of any social media website then, in 2004. Orkut invaded my teenage life in February 2006 and since then social networking has become an integral part of me!

There is no looking back now. I was never active on orkut till end of 2006. And then, I got to know about the Adnan Patrawala case and learnt to be more cautious on the net. (Don’t know Adnan? Google it!) My parents didn’t like my spending of hours in front of the computer, in fact, in front of Orkut! But I never cared to listen to them!

Then somehow in April 2009, I created a facebook account. Yeah, this was the new buzz. I couldn’t adjust with the interactivity of facebook immediately and so was highly inactive at this new place for some time. But then, technology has its way of moving ahead, leaving the old behind. And soon enough, I was glued to Facebook. Orkut lay forgotten. I was a facebook addict now!!

After watching the ‘Social Network’, I was actually appreciating Mark Zuckerberg for this brilliant (probably ‘stolen’) college project called Facebook, that had revolutionized the way we use the internet.

And then the competitor arrived- Google Plus. MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and Hi5- none could compete with Facebook. But Google Plus did have the potential to remove this ‘monopoly’ from the top-spot for a change. With the initial reviews and wait for ‘invites’ and the huge number of social networkers joining the site in such a less amount of time, it seemed that finally now there was something that was going to rival facebook. But, well, I guess, Facebook still is the winner. Google Plus was surely able to pull in a huge crowd but somehow its facebook+twitter combination wasn’t able to keep its users glued to it. At least not the way Zuckerberg could!

Coming back to where I started this. The movie. There were actually many things that I got to know from it. Some were known and the movie just brought it out. And some were, truly unknown.

The movie focussed on the dual-lives that so many of us have started living- Online and Offline. I don’t think I am going to delve into the details of what the movie had; you can find that through a simple Google Search. Let me concentrate on the more important things.

I was surely not aware of the fact that when in 2010, SMS services were banned in Jammu and Kashmir, internet ban had also been planned. But because of some technical issues (that involved separating the internet connection lines of Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and J&K) this couldn’t be done. And so, facebook became the only medium of mass communication for the youth there. 35,000 unique users were active on facebook from J&K and were communicating the interior realities of what was happening there to their friends and hence to the world.

Blogging was a medium that so many people used to help themselves get rid of emotional pressures. It provided them a platform to communicate with people virtually and more easily. (I was actually jealous of the Indian housewife’s blog that the film featured. She had s many as 470 comments on a single post! I have never had even 47!)

Leading this second and sometimes ‘fake’ life, was found funny for some and some did it for emotional help- to get rid of the tensions of everyday life in a virtually real (but non-existing) life. And there are people who actually get attached to this ‘fake’ life so much that they tend to turn their real selves into this ‘fake’ one!

I don’t know why I was compelled to make this entry today after watching the by-far most interesting movie at the Film Festival, which has lasted for 4 days already. I guess I would conclude with the continuation of the conversation in the beginning.

Interviewer: “Tell about each one.”
Answer: “Well, a couple of thousands online and probably two offline!!”

PS: Do you lead a double life as well? Do let me know with your views and comments…

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On this World Bloggers' Day

It has been more than 3 years now since I am writing blogs and just a year ago, I had come to know that 31st August of each year was known as the World Bloggers’ Day. It is a day dedicated to blog writers and readers from across the world.

My college has celebrated World Bloggers’ Day since last year with a blog writing/designing competition (of which, I was the winner in 2010 for my entry Thoughtful Thirst for Words). The event this year was a huge success as well. I didn’t take part this time though. I was happier as a member of the Organising Committee. :)

A bit of research on the World Wide Web for making a presentation for the event, told me what exactly was the purpose of marking this day as so important in the calendar- This is a day when every blogger around the world, writes about 5 new blogs that he has read and liked and would like others to read as well. When everyone does this, there would be loads of new blogs coming up into the purview of bloggers everywhere. And so, discovery of new things would be easily achieved and that too in a mode of fun.

Keeping with the spirit, here I bring to you 5 blogs that I love to follow and which are as diverse as the topics about which they are written.

#1. Samudra Sarangi’s ‘Scribbles and Blotches’ at http://creativityerror.blogspot.com/
Penned by a man who calls himself ‘Creativity Error’, the blog contains ‘Unadulterated glimpses into the hallucinating mind of "creativity error".’ There are two important reasons why I like this blog. One, the author belongs to my hometown and was one of the first seniors I met at DPS Vasant Kunj Hostel and two, each entry made here is unique and never misses out on humour (which makes sure that you keep reading each entry till the very last word!)

#2. Arunima Shah’s ‘The Glow of Dawn’ at http://arunima21.wordpress.com/
From someone who believes in living in the moment, or at least, that’s what the blog description says ‘HAR PAL YAHAN, JEE BHAR JIYO… JO HAI SAMA, KAL HO NA HO’. This blog comes from one who I have known for years and only recently did I discover that she loved writing and blogging as well. Stumbling across this blog was an accident and the discoveries that the accident led to are worth mentioning. Awesome layout and design and such a huge variety of topics written about!

#3. Sahil Malhotra’s ‘Sporting Thoughts’ at http://sahilmalhotra1.blogspot.com/
The first time I was given the link for this blog, I was thinking, ‘Why the hell am I being asked to read about a sport I am least interested in?’ Through till the end of the first entry and I was hooked to reading more. For the first time, I have started liking to read about cricket and in the process, I have learnt a lot about the game for sure. The one thing that amused me about this college-senior of mine was the ‘About Me’ section on his blog- Faadu! :D
  
#4. Love Garg’s ‘Revelations of a Wandering Mind…’ at http://obscurexploration.blogspot.com/
The newest addition to my list of favourite blogs. Reason 1- This comes from my ex-roomie who I haveen’t seen in a year and a half. Reason 2- The guy has gone mad in the last one year and philosophy has taken over his scientific blend of mind. Reason 3- He is good at whatever he does and expert advice can always be sought from him on any topic relating to life! Reason 4- He is not yet 19, and talks like he has lived 50 years already! Reason 5- I want to meet him and we need to discuss loads of stuff!

#5. Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘BigBlog’ at http://bigb.bigadda.com/
I couldn’t have forgotten this one of course! This doesn’t belong to any of my friends, but to someone who every Indian knows for sure. This was the blog that had at the first place inspired me to start blogging 3 years ago. I still read it regularly and am awestruck by the fact that a superstar who is almost 70 and follows such a hectic schedule has time for blog writing and that too each and every day wherever in the world he is! Awesome!

So that’s my list of 5 favourite blogs. Do let me know what you think about this whole concept of blogging and the way the phenomenon has gripped the world!

Happy World Bloggers’ Day! Enjoy! :)
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