Chennai First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Chennai, Tamilians and all the People of TamilNadu – here at Home and Overseas
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    Chennai :

    If you are pining for some hot ghee drenched dosa while trudging through a cold North American autumn, you have just been offered yet another choice to indulge in the taste of home. It seems one of South India’s most beloved restaurant chains is set to take its first steps into the United States of America.

    The US Consulate in Chennai tweeted out late on Saturday night that Adyar Ananda Bhavan, popularly known as A2B, is planning to open its first branch there next month.

    “A2B in the US? Yes! Chennai’s @A2BRestaurant plans 2 open its 1st outlet in US in Aug 2016!,” went the US Consultate’s tweet. It’s facebook post had a bit more information.

    According to the Consulate, the decision to open shop in the North American nation was a “direct outcome” of the chain’s participation in the U S Commercial Service’s SelectUSA Investment Summit held in Washington D. C recently.

    A2B will be following in the footsteps of the now iconic Hotel Saravana Bhavan, which already has three hotels in the United States and 56 outlets across the globe not including those in India, according to its website.

    A2B meanwhile has no branches overseas and 95 branches in India. The chain began three decades ago as a small sweet shop started by founder K S Thirupathi Raja in Chennai. Now at the helm are his two sons – Managing Director K T Srinivasa Raja and K T Venkatesan.

    The management of the chain could not be reached for comment.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Jonathan Ananda / July 30th, 2016

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    July 31st, 2016adminEducation, Science & Technologies


    About two-third of the symptoms leading to gastrointestinal diseases occur in the food pipe and the stomach in the form of heartburn and ulcer. But reading textbooks and following practices pioneered in the West alone cannot help doctors in treating them.

    More than 30 videos that demonstrated surgical procedures in managing diseases of the gastrointestinal tract including that of the stomach and food pipe as well as those involving the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile duct (hepato-pancreatic biliary) were screened. Experts, who had done the procedures and had mastered the techniques involved in successful management of the diseases later gave tips to more than 200 post-graduates and practising surgeons.

    The videos were screened to give an update of the latest techniques involved in some standard as well as complex procedures to treat diseases like hernia and chronic inflammation of the pancreas. It was screened as part of the Global Gastro Update organised by Institute of Gastro Intestinal and Hepato Pancreatic Biliary Sciences of Global Health City.

    “The videos focusses on the most important steps critical to the success of the procedures,” said Dr S M Chandramohan, director, department of gastrointestinal surgery, Global Health City.

    State health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan, who earlier inaugurated the event, said while surgeons updating their scientific knowledge will ultimately benefit the public, he urged the experts to work together to make them accessible and affordable.

    Assistant professor from Madras Medical College Dr Raj Kumar Rathnaswamy, who attended the sessions, said such an event can help them correct the mistakes that happen in planned surgeries.

     “Besides live and lecture demonstrations, viewing such videos and interacting with experts involved in such surgeries can help us learn the recent advancements in the procedures and refine our techniques,” the doctor said.
    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / TNN / July 31st, 2016
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    The road in question is in Adyar, shortly after the bridge / Photo: Special Arrangement

    The road in question is in Adyar, shortly after the bridge / Photo: Special Arrangement

    That is an intriguing name. The road in question is in Adyar, shortly after the bridge. It had me scurrying home to consult Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy’s book A Tale of Two Schools, which documents the history of the Sankara Schools run by the Indian Education Trust. Much of the details in this article are from that work.

    Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott founded the Theosophical Society (TS) in 1875 in New York. They acquired the 27-acre estate of the thickly wooded Huddlestone Gardens on the banks of the Adyar River in 1882 and established the world headquarters of the Society there in 1883. Annie Besant, who became its President in 1907, was instrumental in the Society becoming a huge 266-acre estate by 1910.

    The TS needed a press for printing its tracts, and in 1907, Annie Besant purchased the necessary machinery and established it just outside the estate, on a narrow road adjoining the Society’s world headquarters entrance. By then, the Theosophists had ‘sanskritised’ Besant into Vasantha, and the printing facility became the Vasantha Press, the road taking its name from it. An interesting aside is that the Besant School begun by the TS had its prayer dedicated to Annie Besant. The song composed by the legendary Papanasam Sivan is in raga Vasantha and begins with the words Devi Vasanthe!

    The foundation stone for the Vasantha Press was laid in 1908, and it became functional a short while later. In 1914, Mrs Besant acquired the Madras Standard, a daily, and renamed it New India. The paper, which electrified the freedom movement with its demand for Home Rule, was initially brought out from the Vasantha Press.

    Running into frequent trouble with the authorities, it moved its offices in 1916 to the New India Building on Second Line Beach, from where it was published till its demise, which was probably in 1926. New India Building is now home to another of Besant’s creations, the Young Men’s Indian Association (YMIA). It is temporarily housed there, even as it takes ages to make up its venerable mind over what is to be done with its original home — Gokhale Hall, on Armenian Street.

    After Annie Besant’s death in 1933, the TS acquired and ran Vasantha Press for long. An expanded facility was built in Besant Gardens in the TS premises in 1971 and the Press moved there. The Sankara School, set up in R.K. Nagar, Raja Annamalaipuram, at the instance of the Kanchi Paramacharya and spearheaded by P.R. Pattabhiraman, was then looking for property that it could acquire and expand in. The Indian Education Society (now Trust) that manages the school purchased the erstwhile Vasantha Press property in 1973. The school moved in the same year and continues to function from there. The old press building has made way for state-of-the-art classrooms, but the spirit of Besant, who believed in preparing the younger generation for meeting the challenges of the future, lives on.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Society / by Sriram V / Chennai – July 29th, 2016

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    Photo Courtesy: Facebook via Swetha Suresh

    Photo Courtesy: Facebook via Swetha Suresh

    She is a singer, Bharatanatyam dancer and video editor. Multi-talented.

    But it is her unique talent of whistling that has been fetching this Chennai girl laurels. Swetha Suresh is a professional whistler.

    She has won the first prize in two competitions at the World Whistling Convention held in Japan between July 15-17, and is already a record-holder for whistling 18 hours straight in 2014. Her name has entered the Tamil Nadu Book Of Records, Asia Book of records and also the Limca Book Of Records. She has next set her sights on the Guinness world records, which she plans to conquer soon.

    Asked how she got interested in whistling, Swetha says “I started taking Carnatic music lessons at a very young age and joined a children’s orchestra as a vocalist in my fifth standard. I was fascinated by the sound of the flute and wanted to learn to play it. But at that time, I was unable to. So I tried to whistle the sounds and that’s how I got interested in whistling. As whistlers, we call ourselves ‘flute without bamboo’.”

    Swetha’s parents encouraged her unique talent and helped her join the Indian Whistler’s Association (IWA) to develop it.

    There are different forms of whistling — blowing in, blowing out, teeth whistling and wolf whistling. Swetha is a blowing-out whistler and she groomed herself as an artist through different innovative training exercises at the IWA.

    The World Whistling Convention, which she won, is a biennial affair, and this year it took place in Kawasaki, Japan. There was online audition which she cleared with a top rank, bolstered by which she set about planning her trip. Giving her a leg up, her college, Shankarlal Sundarbai Shasun Jain College,  where she had completed her undergraduate studies, sponsored her trip.  A few friends also pitched in to help Swetha realise her dream.

    The convention in Japan saw 50 contestants from six countries participating in different categories. Swetha participated in the Recorded Accompaniment (Adult female) and the Allied Arts categories. The whistle artist says it was a really tough competition and she felt added pressure because she was performing in front of her idol, Geert Chatrou, a world champion whistler from the Netherlands.



    But this youngster was able to top both her competitions and got the first prize in both. She even got a special souvenir from her idol.

    Whistling is usually seen as a roadside Romeo’s toll of choice, and it is never taken seriously. But this Chennai girl has conquered the world stage with her whistling prowess and hopes that people see it for the art it is.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Stanley John / Online Desk / July 29th, 2016

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    July 29th, 2016adminArts, Culture & Entertainment

    Chennai :

    Veteran Tamil poet R Ranganathan, known as Gnanakoothan , died of age-related illnesses on Wednesday night. He was 78 and is survived by his wife and two sons.

    Born in Nagapattinam in in 1938, Gnanakoothan attacked the establishment with his own idiom of social satire through his poems. He is considered one of the pioneers of modern Tamil poetry.

    His popular collections poems are “Suriyanukku Pinpakkam,” “Anru Veru Kizhamai,” and “Kakarkaraiyil SIla Marankal.”

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / M T Saju /TNN /July 28th, 2016

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    July 28th, 2016adminBusiness & Economy
    Pattappa and his son Balaji at the Central Kitchen in Triplicane./   PHOTO: K.V. SRINIVASAN

    Pattappa and his son Balaji at the Central Kitchen in Triplicane./ PHOTO: K.V. SRINIVASAN

    In its long journey, Pattappa Catering Service has evolved from wedding feasts into the restaurant business. Its founder speaks to SUBHA J RAO about the fine art of serving

    It’s just a little past 11, and a couple is already waiting outside Pattappavin Thaligai, opposite Nageswara Rao Park. Minutes later, a family disembarks from an auto-rickshaw and rushes in, only to realise that the shutters are still down. They are soon joined by another family from Bangalore.

    Behind the closed shutters, efficiency is quietly at work. A waiter lays out tumblers on every table and checks if the water jugs are full. Others line up near the buffet counter, ready to serve customers. That’s when the man who’s lent his name to the restaurant walks in from his fiefdom — the kitchen. L.V. Pattappa looks at the counters and instructs a boy to polish the surface some more. He then narrates the journey of a 14-year-old from Ladavaram in Arcot district who came to Chennai to assist at S.V. Thathachari’s house on Pandala Venugopal Street, Triplicane, and became a caterer who finds mention in popular culture — Sujatha’s novels, Crazy Mohan’s plays…

    Just the week before, I’d partaken of a meal that 67-year-old Pattappa, a fifth-generation cook, catered for a lunch at a friend’s house.The menu was delicious but limited, the serving sizes small, the refills innumerable. Just the kind of meal Pattappa is known for. “Food must never be wasted. The mark of a good cook and serving staff is that the plantain leaf must be clean at the end of a meal. Eat as much as you want, but only what you need. The staff must be attentive, and keep serving small portions so that the guest never feels food has been dumped on the leaf,” says Pattappa, who encourages clients to opt for a traditional set menu that’s high on flavour and taste but low on ostentation.

    The big hand of the clock inches towards 12, and Balaji, Pattappa’s son, takes one last look at the counters before the guests come in. There’s kesari flecked with pineapple, chappati with dal, ghee-scented sambar rice, rasam rice, a creamy curd rice, kovaikkai (ivy gourd) poriyal, vadaam (fries),mor milagai and pickle.

    The shutters go up and the till-now quiet room comes alive with the sound of familiar greeting. “Maama, I’ve come all the way from Bangalore just to eat your saapad,” exclaims a customer, who’s grown up on food catered by Pattappa at numerous occasions — he’s been cooking for more than half a century now.

    Within minutes, the 60-seater restaurant, opened just two months ago, is packed. It opens for lunch and dinner on weekdays, and there’s breakfast too on weekends.So, what prompted the move to enter the restaurant business? “A lot of people have been asking us to supply food in this part of town.

    Thaligai is a step in that direction. It is also our charity arm. We keep the prices reasonable, and all proceeds go towards a trust in my mother Prema’s memory,” says Balaji. Pattappa was also responsible for steering the business and taking on wedding contracts instead of just the catering.

    Meanwhile, in the kitchen, where Prema smiles from a frame on the shelf, Pattappa checks out the hygiene levels; the first lesson he learnt as a trainee cook under his uncle Mukkur Sreenivasa Iyengar. Life’s come a long way since he started off by boiling milk in Thathachari’s house. “Maami would make the coffee. I would cut vegetables, serve the food she cooked…” his voice trails off. He was paid Rs. 60 a month then, and gradually accepted the opportunity to cook for small gatherings. People loved his feasts, and it paid well too. Cooking for a two-and-a-half-day wedding would fetch him Rs. 20.

    And then, Pattappa decided to strike out on his own. He’s seen the winds of change blow in the kitchen — firewood ovens were replaced by gas stoves, and steam cooking got popular, but he drew the line at LPG cooking.

    Even today, Pattappa cooks every day — in the mornings and afternoons, he’s at venues where the family is catering; mid-mornings and late evenings are reserved for Thaligai. “We decided our timings based on appa’s schedule. Our wedding catering must not suffer because of the restaurant,” says Balaji.

    It’s not easy to make the switch from a business where people queue up to book you to another where you wait for people to drop in. But, Balaji says that they were firm that Thaligai will not feature a traditional feast. “This is not fast food, but food meant for those on the go. That’s why all our ‘variety rice’ dishes are pre-mixed. Our wedding specialities are different and will not be served here. What is served here, stays here,” he says. Some things are a constant; they avoid the use of garlic and onion in their food, except on rare occasions when they include onion in some of the dishes at receptions.

    And so, if you wish to eat Pattappa’s famous akkara vadisal, Kasi halwa, thayir vadai, Kanchipuram idli, rava dosai, potato roast or paal payasam, you still have to wrangle for an invitation to some event he’s catering at. Even that is exclusive. “We usually work on just one event a day, except in very rare cases,” says Balaji, who adds the business is run by Pattappa, his four brothers and their six children.

    All the cousins have learnt cooking watching their fathers at work. “When we were young, our gurus would never teach us the complete recipe; we had to observe and learn. When we recreated it, it would be rejected. But today, we share recipes without a second thought,” says Pattappa.

    “It’s such a good feeling when someone you gave a paal payasam recipe to, calls up to tell you that it turned out well. What else does a cook want?”

    So, what’s the favourite food of the man who’s had the who’s who of the city eating out of his hands? A simple poricha rasam made by his daughter-in-law Vidya. And, the bitter gourd kaaramadhu his wife used to make.

    Recipe corner

    Paal payasam


    Milk: 1 litre

    Rice: 1 small ladle

    Sugar: 2 small ladles

    Saffron: 4-5 strands

    Optional: cashew, raisins, cardamom


    Pour the milk into a thick-bottomed vessel and boil on a slow flame.

    Clean the rice and add to the milk. Wait till the rice is cooked.

    Add the sugar and cook till creamy.

    Stir in the saffron strands.

    The payasam is done when it turns a pale yellow and the rice, milk and sugar come together beautifully.

    If too thick, add half a cup of boiled milk.

    Rest for an hour before serving.

    Potato Roast


    Potato (ask for the variety used to make chips): 500 gm

    Salt and chilli powder: to taste

    Oil for frying


    Boil potato with skin on, till it is cooked but firm.

    Drain and set aside for 10 minutes.

    Once cool, peel and dice the potato into same-sized pieces.

    Heat oil and deep-fry the potato in batches.

    Drain on a colander, and add salt and chilli powder.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Society / by Subja J Rao / Chennai – July 27th, 2016

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    July 27th, 2016adminEducation, Nature, Science & Technologies
    Students of Zoology Department conducting a bird count./ Photo: Anusha Sundar / The Hindu

    Students of Zoology Department conducting a bird count./ Photo: Anusha Sundar / The Hindu

    Workshops, nature walks, intercollegiate competitions and guest lectures are part of the year-long celebrations. L. KANTHIMATHI reports

    As part of its diamond jubilee celebrations, the Department of Zoology at Stella Maris College will invite its former faculty and students from across India and abroad to deliver lectures through video-conferencing. This programme would however continue beyond the diamond jubilee year.

    Rita Jayraj, assistant professor and Head of the Department of Zoology, says, “The main objective of this initiative is to be up-to-date with the trends in the field. Two of our former staff members, who are from Australia and the United States, have agreed to be part of this programme.”

    The celebrations would include a series of events that would be conducted through the year. There would be workshops on molecular biology, nature walks, involving spotting of butterflies and insects, intercollegiate competitions, guest lectures, release of a book on butterflies and also the release of a souvenir, which consists of a collection of photos and a brief description of birds, insects and spiders.

    According to Kalpana Jayaraman, assistant professor, “Our students are never short of enthusiasm when it comes to trying out new things, which encourages us to organise a range of interesting programmes.”

    The Department was founded in 1956 under the leadership of late Dr. Eileen Riordan.

    In an email communication, Meera Paul, the second Head of the Department, says, “Over the years, the Department has witnessed a steady growth, continually adding new subjects that are allied to zoology. Another achievement of the Department lies in the area of animal welfare. With the support of the World Society for Protection of Animals, the Department has introduced papers on animal welfare. The Department also celebrates Compassion Week and has spearheaded several animal adoption drives in association with the Blue Cross of India. Our students have been involved in the activities of the Sea Turtle Conservation Network and the Crocodile Bank. They have also taken part in the Black Buck census conducted at the Guindy Park. Also, the Department has undertaken soil studies as part of the restoration project at Adyar Poonga.”

    In 2005, the Department began to use computer simulations as an alternative to wet labs in the same year.

    Another important milestone of the department was achieved in 2013 when the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, accorded Star status to the zoology department. According to the college authorities, SMC is one of the two colleges in Tamil Nadu which received the status in the first phase.

    “On an average, close to 1,000 frogs and other fauna are dissected for academic purposes. To put an end to this practice, we adopted computer simulations,” says Rita Jayaraj. At the inauguration of the celebrations, the college principal, Sr. Jasintha Quadras, welcomed the chief guest, Additional Director General of Police Srilakshmi Prasad, who is an alumnae of the Department.

    In her address, she said, “The Department has stood the test of time due to the teachers’ dedication and the keen interest they have been taking in spotting talent in students.”

    She also advised the students to lead a life ruled by moral values.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Down Town / L Kanthimathi / Chennai – July 16th, 2016

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    Chennai :

    IIT Madras celebrated its second AlumNite, a variant of the traditional alumni day, on Saturday.

    Dr Jayant Baliga Distinguised University Professor and Director, Power Semiconductor Research Center, North Carolina State University, was conferred Distinguished Alumnus Award 2016 on the occasion.

    The other recipient of the Alumnus awards were Dr. S. Christopher Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Director General, DRDO and Dr. Aravind Srinivasan Professor, Department of Computer Science and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland.

    Speaking on the occasion, president of IIT Madras Alumni  Association (IITMAA) Ravi Venkatraman, who passed out in 1971 said, “The Alumni Association besides trying to bring together entrepreneurs, was involved in social work. We refurbished schools affected in floods and collected Rs 15 Lakh within a week. We are also engaged with projects in villages and identified two villages in Kanchipuram. An alumni card is on the anvil,” he said.

    Thiru Srinivasan from 1989 batch said, “This year industry has taken a bigger role. Employment to the graduating students has increased. We are starting to reach out to the governing bodies like Anna University and NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). We want to touch 100 colleges and would like to get more alumni.”

    Abhishek Sharma who graduated this year said last year the fund raised from graduating students was Rs 15 Lakh and this year it Rs 35 Lakh.

    V Balaraman who is the former Managing Director of Ponds and under whose name an alumni chair was established in April was officially launched on AlumNite.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / July 24th, 2016

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    Chennai :

    Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday said 35,104 bio-toilets have been provided on trains and 30,000 more such toilets will installed in the current financial year.

    The minister was speaking after inaugurating country’s first green corridor – the stretch between Rameswaram and Manamadurai — through video conferencing from Chennai Central railway station.

    All the trains running on the section have bio-toilets. This has eliminated human defecation on the tracks.

    The minister also inaugurated an upgraded free Wi-Fi at Chennai Central which uses 99 antennae provided by Google. The Wi-Fi was part of a larger plan to digitally connect Indians, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prabhu said.

    He made a fervent appeal to the Tamil Nadu government to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the railways and to participate in railway infrastructure projects.

    “All your neighbouring states have signed memoranda with railways. I’ve written a letter to honourable chief minister J Jayalalithaa for her support. I’m awaiting a positive response,” he said.
    Tamil Nadu has not yet signed the MoU with railways as it has demanded changes in the existing framework of rules under which a special purpose vehicle (SPV) would work.

    Prabhu said Royapuram station could be developed as a third terminal in the city under a joint-venture with the state government. “We want to make terminals which would have better passenger amenities than airports,” he said.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / by Siddharth Prabhakar / TNN / July 24th, 2016

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    The street commemorates members of the Lodd family / Photo: Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    The street commemorates members of the Lodd family / Photo: Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Chennai has never had it so good as far as interest in its history goes. Numerous heritage walks, talks, discussion forums, photography and art groups are flooding us with information on our rich past. Most of it is wonderful, throwing up long-forgotten nuggets. Sadly, we also have some mischievous elements contributing what can be classified as plain tales.

    Take for instance the story of Lord Labak Das. That phrase, for it cannot be qualified as a name, though an old one, became famous following a sequence involving comedian Vivek in a movie that I have long forgotten. But of late, there is a persistent WhatsApp forward, which claims that Lord Labak Das was in fact Lord Labough Dash, a kind-hearted Governor of Madras in the pre-Independence era. The message also has an image of the supposed person, which on closer inspection turns out to be Lord Curzon! And so, Lord Labough Dash is a figment of someone’s imagination. There was never any pre-Independence governor of that name and none of the incumbents could be termed kind-hearted, with the sole exception of Sir Thomas Munro.

    As always in such cases, the tale of Lord Labak Das has a grain of truth. It draws inspiration from the Lodd family. These were wealthy and highly philanthropic Gujarati merchants of the late 19th and early 20th Century Madras, the patriarch being Lodd Krishnadoss Balamukundoss, who was a partner in the firm of Govindoss Giridhardoss & Co. His son Lodd Govindoss has been frequently written about in The Hindu. The family’s community prefix of Lodd gave rise to an interesting story even in the early 20th century — it was said that they got the name because they distributed laddus free to everyone in George Town! It also inspired humorists and the early Tamil magazine Ananda Bodhini carried stories of two warring businessmen, Gulab Jan Das and Kunja Ladu Das, both named after sweetmeats!

    The Lodd family owned a vast area bounded by General Patters Road. This was known as Patters Gardens and in its heyday played host to the likes of Raja Ravi Varma, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and the Music Academy’s 1937 annual conference. The estate has long been divided among family members, some of whom still live within it. Lodd Govindoss has a memorial in a corner. One part of the erstwhile estate is now known as Border Thottam, most likely a corruption of Patter Thottam (Gardens). This was privately developed and sold by the Lodds even in the 1930s and L(odd) G(ovindoss) N(agar) Road, V(ijaya) N(arayana) Doss Road and Gopal Doss Road commemorate members of the family. Satyamurti Bhavan, the Chennai home of the Congress Party, fronts Patters Gardens and stands on land gifted by Lodd Govindoss.

    It is time we stopped looking for anglicised props to support history in our backyard. If we at all want to search for the inspiration behind Lord Labak Das, let us give a kind-hearted Gujarati the credit.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Society / by Sriram V / Chennai – July 15th, 2016

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