Notes: Recovery

www.It was all started in 2009 when a doctor told me that I would only have another 10 years to live if my liver problem was being treated. He did not give me any choice because he saw me as a poor student and the treatment was expensive. I was only 21 years old university student back then. So he only gave me some dodgy vitamin. I was afraid & terrified.

What would I have achieved by the age of 31 y.o? Would I be a successful woman?” I was terrified. I was in a relationship that time, I told him & gave choices either to stay or to leave. He stood by me, so he said. He did, he still is. He then found one of best doctor in Southeast Asia.

We met her in SG. After test & consultation, she told me that everything would be okay as long as it is treated properly. I was not really convinced but we went ahead with the treatment. It was a strong drug. After 2 years, it showed a significant improvement and the doctor stopped the treatment. I was very happy. I thought the first doctor was full of b.s.

Yet, I was still afraid that I might die at the age of 31. So I worked so hard to achieve everything that I wanted in life. “I only had 10 years, got no time to waste.” That’s what I said to myself. Jakarta’s life was not that easy & it made life circumstances harder. This led me into #depressionand #anxiety.

I must say that time I often felt that I was worthless, no point of living this life and I always kept distance from anyone. I became an unpleasant person to be around with and I built Great Wall from my friends and family. I would not talk to anyone unless I wanted to. It came to the point where I tried to kill myself and landed in hospital several times. Pills, knife and car accident. I was out of my head. And yet, I was still alive.

Nobody told me that I needed a help but I thought that I needed professional help. So I looked around and found one. Unfortunately, some physicists that I saw were being judgmental. It didn’t work. Yet, they prescribed me with anti-depression. I become dependent. From 0.125 mg to 2.5 mg. Higher & higher. The 2.5mg didn’t work anymore.

Out of the unknown, these anti depressant pills were bad for my liver. My problem returned & worse. It got me more depressed. I then started believing what the first doctor said that I am indeed going to die by the age of 31 y.o I was lost & didn’t know what to do. And one day, a friend took me to #running track to cope with my depression for the very first time & it was hard

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Notes: The Wanderer

www.catatanfani.comRunning has always been my thing and I have always been into outdoor running. Unfortunately, since I moved to  Bangladesh in early 2016, outdoor running did not seem to be visible. It is because I cannot wear my ‘normal’ running gear -sport bra and short- as it is culturally inappropriate. As a foreigner, I just have to respect the local culture. Additionally, the 2016 terrorist attack which occurred in July 2016, has also limited our movement. Therefore, I decided to give up my hobby partly and started doing indoor running at the gym.

I must say indoor running is quiet boring because all I had to do was just staring on the screen all the time which then led me to think ‘When am I going to complete this run?‘. I did not enjoy it all. Yet, what to do? I had no choice. I had to force myself to fall in love with it. After months of training, I become used to it and I did not mind one way or another as long as I run.

For me, running has always been an important activity to me because it provides me a good dose of endorphin which puts me on a good mood. Additionally, it also helps me to cope with my anxiety and depression problem. Hence, there is just no way for me to skip one run unless I am on the plane or being hospitalized.

Anyhow, three weeks ago, I started to do an outdoor running again, here in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Of course, I still cannot wear my normal running gear but what to do? At the end, I have to compromise and that is okay. I must say that despite the fact it was extremely hot having myself covered with long sleeve shirt and long pants, it was not bad at all actually. As I run around the park, crossed the street and went inside small alleys, I discovered so many things including the road, the beauty of local attire and the contrast of people’s lifestyle which I would never see if I only run in the gym. And I must say that since I arrived in Dhaka, other than the birth of my son, I have never been happier because I was able to run outside.

Outdoor running  means a lot to me. It gives me the sense that I am a free social being  and  I am not trapped. I can see what kind of place and society I am living in. I wish this place doesn’t have security problem so I can explore the city by running every morning without any worry.

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Notes: Good People, Good Heart

www.catatanfani.comSometimes I wonder, where are the good people going? Sometimes, I feel that there are not many good genuinely kind people around. If some are being  too kind, I often think that there must be motivation behind that. Or if some are being too friendly, sometimes I think that they would just blast me in the back. But then, I guess I am wrong. I guess I am too blind to see the fact that actually there are so many genuinely good people around me.

So today, I went to Coldstone, an ice cream shop in Gulshan 1. I went there, not to have ice cream but to have a cup of cappuccino and a piece of brownie. I love their coffee and I love their brownies because it’s not too sweet and very moist. It’s just finger-licking good and it seems that I am addicted to it. “Oh nooo…..! Is it gonna be another coffee cake disaster again?

Anyway, as am in love with their brownies, I somehow become their regular customer for coffee and brownies, not their ice cream. Even one of the waiters started noticing me and always remembering my order. I vividly remember when I ordered coffee and brownies without ice cream for the very first time, he raised his eyes brows and asked “Only brownies?” and I said “Yes, only brownie!

It came across to me that somehow he  found it strange because many of them came to Coldstone to have ice cream but I only ordered coffee. So he tried to assure himself that what he heard was correct and asked me similar question every time I went there. “Ma’am, you don’t want ice cream?” and I answered “No. I just want coffee and brownies please. I love your brownies because it’s not so sweet and very moist,

As I finished having my coffee, I asked for bill and this waiters somehow surprised me by giving me four pieces of free brownies. “Ma’am, this is for you, from me.” He said politely with friendly sweet smile. I was somehow moved by his act of kindness.

I must say that this is not the first that I encountered with this kind of circumstance. Yesterday for instance, my personal trainer gave me a big surprise, one unit of bicycle. I know some people might find it strange but it doesn’t matter to me. Or last year for instance, my nanny gave me a set of clothes for baby A when he was born. It was a set of nice clothes. Or, the day when my driver brought me green coconut or fruit or vegetable from his villages. Or, my Indonesian friends who invited me to have some homemade mouthwatering Indonesian food in the last minute. Or, the day, one of wise Indonesian lady dropped me a package of vegetable.

These occasions got me thinking and reflecting that some of these people are just ordinary people. Some of these people might not earn a fortune. Yet, they always try to give the best to their boss or friends by spending large amount of money to give the best present to their boss as a form of gratitude or the best gift to their friends as an act of kindness.

Although I must say that some of us sometimes might think “Oh, they want more money that’s why they give us this kind of gift,” or “Oh, it’s just a way for them to show their gratitude for giving them job and treating them well as they know that some of their peers are not as lucky as they are. So they are just genuinely being kind,” or they are just simple people with good heart, expect nothing in return. Right?

Meanwhile, we, the upper middle class or the educated people, often time count how much money we want to spend on gift to a family or friend, which is also not bad as we must always be aware with our cash flow. Or, some even have to brag how much money they have spent on a gift to their friend and complained how cheap and worthless gift they got as a return simply because they wanna show how generous they are while the rest are just plain old cheap people. “Ooo boy

As a conclusion, the occasion taught and showed me that many ordinary people tend to have genuine heart than the upper middle class people who tend to be busy counting every penny that they have and/or or being suspicious or being to calculative in their move. Of course, we cannot generalize them all. Yet, I believe that being kind is so easy and it is free of charge. Yet, sometimes I wonder why aren’t we doing that more often?! I asked myself and I don’t know the exact answer. I guess we are too critical or too suspicious or too calculative in our move. Hence we often have trust issue with people around us.

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Notes: Losing Your Body? Nah!

www.catatanfani.com (1)Many people say that once a woman becomes a mother, she will lose her body, become fat and have jiggly yet flabby body especially those who has baby delivered through c-section including me. Don’t even dream to get your body back, so they say. But here I am, I prove them wrong. You can still have a well-shape body even you have many children be it through normal delivery and/or c-section.

I started getting back to my training regime at seventh weeks postpartum. I must say that I didn’t find it easy. Sometimes I got frustrated because I didn’t seem to lose any baby fat after working out for one month. Sometimes I got frustrated or even depressed because l only run at the slow pace. Sometimes I even gave up, just sat down, did no exercises for hours and just played with my phone because I felt that I did not make any progress. 

But one day, I said to myself “Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just started again,” so I started to take it easy that time. I just forgot about the aesthetics result and just focused on the form of my exercise as well as my diet.

At the end, aesthetic result is not my main exercise’s goal but sanity is. As a result, I got my body back faster than I expected as you can see on the picture above. 

Ps: no whey protein is being used. It’s all natural diet.

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Notes: My Clothes, Your Clothes

Are you wearing fast fashion products either it is from Zara, Pull & Bear, H&M, Bershka and any other? How often do you buy a new outfit? And….have you ever wondered who makes your clothes, under what condition, how do they make it or where do they make it? Well, let me tell you a story.

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Yesterday, my friends and I went to an interesting yet eye-opening trip. We visited one  ready made garment factories in Bangladesh. This trip gave us the opportunity to see how our clothes are manufactured from the scratch. Located 35 kilometer from Dhaka, the factory is owned and run by Beximco Group, a Bangladeshi multinational company. The company manufactures products for a wide range of clients ranging from Zara, Pull&Bear, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger to DKNY. According to its official website, currently the company’s Textile & Apparel Division employs more than 5,150 people.

Bangladesh is known as the second largest ready made garment producer after China. The industry has become one of the largest export earning contribution to the country. According to Dhaka based newspaper The Daily Star, the industry has generated export earning up to USD 28.67 billion as of December 2016. The industry hopes to increase to USD 50 billion by 2021.

SONY DSCThe Bangladesh textile and garment industry employs approximately 4 million people. Most of the workers are women. Every month, they earn approximately 7,000 to 10,000 BDT, this figure is actually slightly higher than its minimum wage which is at 5,300 BDT. According to various local media report, the worker union is demanding that the minimum wage should be increased to 16,000 BDT.

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Some of you might remember the 2013 Rana Plaza incident which caused more than 1,100 killed and 2,500 injured; this incident is known as the deadliest industrial disaster ever. Since the incident, the Bangladesh’s textile and apparel industry claims that they have been making effort to improve the factory condition that meet the safety standard. Yet, as we walked around the factory and learnt about its production process, I noticed that many textile and apparel workers are exposed to high level of noise from the machines as well as chemical hazards without any protection which you can see from my pictures. This condition is feared to have a significant impact to the worker’s health. Not forget to mention that many of them spend hours to standing or sitting while doing their work. This made me wonder how much the 2013 Rana Plaza incident has really brought changes to the textile and garment’s industry in Bangladesh.

I must say that this trip has reflected upon me that despite the fact that Bangladesh has become a centre of ready-made garment manufacturing for many global fashion brands, the country is still severely underdeveloped. Additionally, workers tend to have terrible conditions while others get massive profits. Yet, without this sector millions would be unemployed.

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Notes: A Conscious Consumer 

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Those make me horny! [2013: Oktofani]

I don’t know exactly how many clothes I have been purchasing in these last ten years. It must be hundreds or could have been thousands. And where are those clothes now? Most of them have been donated, given out or thrown away. Why? Those were either already washed out, destroyed or simply out of trend. Well you know…I was one of those consumers who “see now, buys now” but I have been trying to change to be a conscious consumer in the past few years now. Why? Here is my story
Back in 2011, I had an interesting conversation with the domestic assistant who worked in my apartment in Jakarta. She told me that she used to work in a garment factory. She also mentioned about her workload, about her salary as well as a heartbreaking incident story where she was pregnant but unfortunately she had a miscarriage when she worked over-time in the factory. She lost her baby. I am not sure whether it was work-related or not. Since then, she decided to leave her job in the garment factory and worked as a domestic assistant in South Jakarta.

A few months later, I went to Canada for Christmas. I went for Christmas shopping in several shops including GAP, Zara and Timberland. As I was checking on the price tag, I found out that those products are made in Indonesia and the price was high. I must say that I was slightly shocked. Why? It was because I remembered my conversation with the domestic assistant of mine. “Wow! This is crazy! Why would I purchase this while the labour is not getting paid fairly,” So I walked away and entered other shops? Again, I found many apparels is made in Indonesia. I then decided to look on the Internet.

As I looked on the internet, apparently many garment and footwear products which are distributed and sold in North America are made in Indonesia or China. Although it got me proud to see those products are made in Indonesia, it somehow got me upset because many labours who made these products only earning peanuts. I understand that other costs are also added but still, it got me sad. I decided to not purchase any that time.

Those events actually change the way I consume garment products.
Do I stop buying clothes? Not yet!
So how? I start to buy less and less.
Why? It is because I don’t need it. If I feel that I want or need new clothes, I tend to have it made. At least, I know who makes my clothes and pay accordingly. Alternatively, I will get clothes from local designers who are transparent about its supply chain. Or sometimes, I purchase pre-loved collection which is still pristine. Otherwise, I only purchase new clothes in a couple of occasion in one year. Not just that, I am also pretty picky about the brand. I tend to look for information regarding how ethical the company is. Although I must admit that we cannot really trust those report 100%. Most importantly, I refuse to pay at full price. Why? If a brand can sell their products with 70% discount, it means that a brand still makes a profit from that price and I don’t want to get ripped off 🙂. Hence, it is very important for me to keep myself fit so I don’t have to purchase new clothes simply because it does not fit me any longer.

Other than that, these days, if I go out purchasing clothes, it must be for my seven months old baby boy. Yet, I don’t purchase it simply because it looks cute so I want to buy many but simply as we need it. For me, this is my way to train myself to be a conscious customer. It is not only good for the environment but also for my saving. As you can imagine, how much money I have been spending on clothes which are eventually not being worn and forgotten or thrown away.

In the end, I believe that the way the consumers consume garment products can eventually force the company to be more ethical in producing their products where it should be good for the society as well as the environment.

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Notes: On Mental Health

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Drying and dying [2018:EO]

The world marks October 10 as the World Mental Health Day. It aims to raise awareness about the mental health issue. By raising awareness about mental health, people who have mental health problem could get help as soon as possible because they are aware that they have a problem. And I know very well how useful this help can be for one.

As you might have been aware that depression and anxiety are two of mental health issues which have been openly discussed on the Internet in these last few years. Prior to that, people used to hide those problems. They felt that it is embarrassing and they felt ashamed about it because many tend to bully or mock those who are suffering from depression. As a result, many who are suffering from depression do not get help and it could get worse for some people whether some would turn to be an alcoholic, sex addicts, smoker, drug users or even commit to suicide. 

It happened to me a few years ago…

After a piece of bad news broke in 2009, I have always been sad. I was afraid that I would not have enough time to fulfil my dreams. Since then, over the years, I tried to race with time to do as much as I could. Yet, I always felt that I only did a little and it was never enough. It made me upset. I often got home cried and felt miserable. Yet, I thought it was just a simple sadness. I thought I was just being a drama queen.  

It took me years to realize that it was not just sadness as I started to get suicidal thought or suddenly become hysteric. It even landed me in the hospital several times. Since then, I knew I had a problem and I decided to seek help. Yet, I could not seek help from friends or family. I felt that they would judge me or preach to me. So, I built a wall, kept a distance from people and I tried to seek helps from professionals. It was not easy to find the right one. They offered me various solutions including anti-depressant consumption, therapy section, engaging in a religious activity as well as being physically active. I found it hard. Later I figured that exercise was the best solution among others. Yet, it requires self-discipline. 

I vividly remembered one Monday morning when I felt down and my body feeling week because I did not exercise for nearly a week because I was being lazy. That day, I realized that wonderful effect of exercise toward my mood. Since then, I always tried to make time to do it even only for 30 minutes on a daily basis. I forced myself to run even it is only 4 am and many are still sleeping. As time passed by, I become an addict, addict of exercise.  Happy with the result, I maintain until today even with various adjustment. Frankly, I did not really care about the aesthetic result of exercise as my priority is to feel good about myself in mind, body and soul.

Hence if you have a problem, don’t be ashamed to talk about it and seek for bits of help. Share with those who have similar problems, they might be able to help you or they actually might not be able to help you. Nevertheless, it is all about your willingness to acknowledge it and get help. While for you who know anyone with mental health issues, please try to acknowledge it even only by listening to them. Never ignore them especially if they are the loved one. 

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Notes: Diane von Fürstenberg

14079885_10154353134090761_2568458359531648185_n-1Few years ago, I did not know who Diane von Fürstenberg is. However, now she is one of my favorite fashion designers. For me, she is very inspiring, not only as a fashion designer but also as a person, as a woman and as a fighter. But how did I get to know about DVF at the first place?

Well, as  a curious person, I always love getting to know the story behind the dresses or shoes that I have been wearing. During my free time, I often searched for articles, videos or book about those designers, and this is including DVF. I watched  some of her talks and speeches on the Youtube, I also read her memoir “The Woman I Wanted To Be” that I purchased in DVF headquarter in New York few months back. As I finished reading her memoir, I have a great admiration to her. She came across as an incredible woman and extremely inspiring. She is very determine, courageous, adventurous, selfless and also has strong wills within herself.

I myself started falling in love with DVF since I was in love with her iconic jersey wrap dress which she released in the 70s for the very first time. However, I cannot remember clearly how I started falling in love with DVF dresses. Perhaps, if I am not mistaken, it might happen in early 2014 when I started to leave the party night scene. 

Back then, I got bored with my collections which tend to be number of bandage dresses, jeans, long sleeve shirt and cropped top. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful collections but they tend to be just sexy but not elegant. Other than that, perhaps I also got older. As a result, I wanted something that is more elegant and classy.  Yet, for I like the clean-cut dresses, I had no idea where to find my dream dresses. 

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DVF Headquarter in West Village, New York City [2016:EO]

So one day, I strolled around Jakarta shopping malls to find the clean-cut yet elegant dresses. After entering boutique after boutique, I finally found my first wrap dress. But it was not DVF wrap dress, it was a BCBGmaxazria wrap dress. I like its fabric, jersey; they are light and look elegant. I like the way it drops as I wear it. Although I loved its prints, it was slightly too shinny and I did not really like it. 

Hence, as I really liked the style, I looked for my second wrap dress which looks less shinny. And here was I at DVF boutique in Plaza Indonesia, I found a heaven with plenty  of wrap dresses hanging on the rack. I picked some and tried them on, they indeed looked very sexy and elegant. I said to myself that I could wear them any kind of events, including function event, dinner or even to work. They seem to be very effortless to put on. 

Since then, I often go to DVF boutique regularly to check some of their latest collections. Not to get them right away tho but wait until the end-of-season sales coming; that way I can save some money and plan what I wanted to buy. Not forget to mention that  I would normally get up to 70 percent off from its real price by shopping on the end-of-season sales. Now, I got some of DVF collections ranging from wrap dresses, romper, shirt dresses, silk shirts as well as cardigan.

Another added point of DVF is that unlike many sales girls in the high-end boutique who will not be friendly to customers if customers buy nothing, most of DVF girls also have good attitude, they are not pushy. They will not force you to buy if they do not suit you well. Be they working in Jakarta boutique, Singapore boutique or NYC store in West Village.

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And that is how I got to know who Diane von Fürstenberg is and end up really admiring her as an iconic woman in fashion industry as well as a person. I must say that I learnt a lot from her memoir “The Woman I Wanted To Be“.

Although something gets me thinking and wondering whether or not DVF dresses are sustainably manufactured. As I understand that Diane von Fürstenberg is about woman empowerment and loves natures, does it mean that DVF also implements sustainable business practice in its production through its supplier which has a significant impact to its labors as well as environment around it? As some of you might be aware that DVF has moved its production from Italy to China and China has an urgent environment problem when it comes to garment industry. Having this question being answered actually will determine whether or not I will get my next DVF.

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Indonesia: Death Row and Drug World

Indonesia will soon make another international headline as the Attorney General Office has been preparing the execution of drug convicts after executing 14 drug convicts last year. Despite the fact AGO has not published the names and the dates,  Beritasatu TV has reported the names of nine drug convicts who would be executed within weeks.

As many of you might be aware that under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration, the Indonesia government has declared war on drugs. President Jokowi stated that he refuses to grant any presidential clemency requested by drug convicts. As a result, any drug convicts, who have been sentenced to death by the court, would be executed. The government believe that capital punishment would give a deterrent impact and eventually stop drug trafficking in Indonesia. Nevertheless, this step has triggered controversy both in the national and international level.

Many argue that capital punishment is not the answer to the drug problem in the country and it is considered against human right. The government ignores the noise and carries the punishment anyway. As a sovereign state, Indonesia has its rules and regulations which could be implemented. The only way to stop capital punishment is by urging the government to revoke the capital punishment from the regulation. Yet, as I listened to the national radio program, many people actually also support the government decision to execute the drug convicts to tackle the drug problem because it is worrying.

Interestingly enough, some media reported how inhumane Indonesian government is because the government of Indonesia did not give notification about their execution to the convicts as well as the family. Is it true? I doubt it. Hence, it got me wondering “If some want to defend the drug dealers and trafficker from being executed, what do we really know about those drugs convicts? Should we have sympathy toward them?” I do not know.

So last month, I came across to two books titled “Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail” and “Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World” at a bookstore in Ngurah Rai Airport Bali. I found the title and cover very interesting. I read the blurb. It seems to be juicy, it is about crimes, drugs, sex and politics in Indonesia. I decided to buy two of them.

Yet, I was actually bit sceptical because of this book was part of a trilogy written by Australian author Kathryn Bonella who wrote “No More Tomorrows Schapelle Corby“. You might wonder “And so?

Well, Schapelle Corby was a convicted drug runner, who was found guilty of smuggling 4.2 kg of marijuana into Bali in 2004.  Denpasar District Court sentenced Corby 20 years imprisonment on May 2005. Since then, she has consistently claimed that she was innocent and fought for her release by filing appeals, judicial reviews as well as request for presidential clemency. On March 2010, she filed presidential clemency claiming that she has been suffering from mental illness. She eventually won the presidential pardon under the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on February 2012. She was then released on February 2014 but must remain in Indonesia to July 2017.

The thing is rumour has it that the release of Corby was actually part of government deal whereby the SBY government had struck a deal with the Australian government to extradite an Indonesian fugitive Adrian Kiki Ariawan, a graft convict who fled to Australia in 2003. However, former Vice Minister of Law and Human Rights Denny Indrayana denied that the extradition of Adrian Kiki Ariawan had something to do with the release of Schapelle Corby.

Unfortunately, I have a conspiratorial mind and I was suspicious. I said to myself, perhaps these books are actually forms of pressure to the Indonesian government to release Corby. Is it possible? But who is Corby? How important she is?  Was she a mule or a horse? Was she really a victim? Or did she play a victim? Is it a way for a convict drug dealer to escaping heavy punishment by claiming that they are suffering from mental illness?

And by the way, one of her lawyers was Hotman Paris. How much did she pay him? Is she coming from a filthy rich family? How could she afford him? Where is the money coming from? Or is this book just a form of comprehensive criticism to the Indonesian justice system?

I must say that it is hard to tell. Everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own agenda. We cannot just buy her stories through media, including books. Right?

So I began to read these books to find the answers and the red line. Instead of finding the answers, I actually start to have more questions. Yet, I must say that these books are eye-opening and easy to read for non-English speaker. If you want to know further, you can check my upcoming post on “Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail” and “Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World“‘s review.

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