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Top 5 myths about London

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
Samuel Johnson

Known by some as the capital of the world, London is a world in itself. Though not everything people know about it is true, and not all that is true is known about it. Here’s a list of what I think are the top 5 myths about London:

1. LONDON BRIDGE: Like most people I always thought this is London Bridge:

So on my first day I asked for directions to ‘London Bridge’ and was directed to an ordinary looking bridge (I don’t believe I have ever taken a pic of London Bridge). When I got there I cursed the dude who gave me directions!! From that bridge I did see the above bridge and went aha, there it is. It took me a whole 2 weeks to realize the bridge that dude had directed me to was in fact London Bridge and the bridge above is actually called “Tower Bridge” 🙂

Well, I didn’t feel too stupid coz not even google knows the difference 🙂 If you search for a google image of “London Bridge” you’ll get this:

The 6th picture is correct. All others are pictures of Tower Bridge

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2. People Speak British English accent:  Not only would you hardly ever hear a British accent in London, you would hardly hear English in London–hell, any accent!! I kid you not! Though, when I say London, I’m mostly talking about central London.

3. It rains a lot: It doesn’t! Yes, I never leave the house without an umbrella, but that’s not because it rains a lot, it’s because we frequently have unexpected showers. It’s not heavy rain and it only lasts 5-10 min.

4. It is usually foggy: Some of my favorite shows growing up was Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, and Miss Marple. Usually London is depicted as misty/foggy and sort of scary/dreamy. Maybe it was like that in the past, but since I have been here I have only seen one foggy night…and that was on Guy Fawkes night, so I’m still not sure if it was fog or smoke from the bon fires 🙂

5. Fish and Chips is a typical British Dish: Don’t mean to be picky here, but actually fish and chips is originally Portuguese 🙂

Next post, top tips about visiting London 🙂

UPDATE: 14/11/11…London’s weather took offense apparently, it has been foggy all day today!

UPDATE 20/11/11 … Okay fine, I take back what I said baba. Today British Airways had to cancel about 50 flights due to the fog!!

Rangoli

Ok, here are a couple of things I love:

1. Great food (with the taste buds I have, almost all cuisine –except for seafood–is classified as great food in my book)

2. Great music (especially Persian and Indian)

3. Great ambiance (sth cozy, exotic, and soothing)

So put all 3 together and you have the restaurant I went to last night…and the bonus part is that the music was live…yep 4 musicians..and the take requests…I requested 1 song (zengi ek safar) and my mom 3 songs (an AMir Khan and Kaloj song from the film Fanaa; a song from the film Darkaan, and a sonu Nigaam song)…oh and the male singer sounds a bit like Kishor Kumar

Here are some pics and videos of Rangoli at Radisson Sas (they don’t have a website 😦  )

PS. plz excuse the quality of the pics and video, they were taken with my mobile

Rangoli's Menu

Rangoli's Menu

First page of the menu

First page of the menu

Rangoli 2

The musicians at work

The musicians at work

The restaurant is build around the base of this dhow. The Dhow itself is another restaurant

The restaurant is build around the base of this dhow. The Dhow itself is another restaurant

Musicians getting ready

Musicians getting ready

That butterfly was not edible :(

That butterfly was not edible 😦

The entrance

The entrance

The dessert

The dessert

PS. I’ll upload the videos soon

Finally updating the post 24 Oct 2011:

Dibai House–a Persian Hotel in Isfahan

When i was last in Iran, during Nowrooz, Isfahan was on my list of cities to visit, but some family emergency forced me to drag my sorry ehm, ehm, back to Kuwait. So when at around 10:00 am some day in November I heard that we are going to be off from December 5th to December 13th, I made sure that an email confirming my ticket to Tehran was in my inbox by 10:10 am 🙂 (Of course I later on found out that we were only going to be off for 3 days, but hey it was too late to cancel my flight ;p)

Now since this was my own country, I wanted it to be a bit spontaneous. I didn’t research and write up an exact iternary like I usually do when I travel. But I did need to get a hotel.

The first hotel I liked was Abbassi Hotel. I LOVED the suites. Check out these pics I got from their gallery:

Abbasi Hotel-Qajary Suite

Abbasi Hotel-Qajary Suite

Abbasi Hotel- Safavid Suite

Abbasi Hotel- Safavid Suite

Abbasi Hotel Safavid Suite

Abbasi Hotel Safavid Suite

But those suites were way too big for just one person and since there were no pics of their single rooms I reckon they must be ordinary. Besides I wasn’t took keen on staying at a luxurious hotel. I wanted somewher homey, somewhere pure Persian, somewhere warm and cozy…and so I stumbled on Dibai House.

The lady who owns this place bought it—and by it I mean a worn out Safavid mansion– around 6 years ago, after moving back to Iran from Spain, and settled in Isfahan with the purpose of renovating such a place to rent out. It took her 1.5 years to even find this house. Most of house dated back to the Safavid era ~350 years ago.

When I was there I had written down loads of notes about the place, but I can’t find it now. So I guess for the time being I got to copy and paste the info from Dibai House site itself (thank God it’s very informative)

Dibai House is a traditional Persian residence that has been restored entirely and in detail. Transformed into a hotel, offers its guests the opportunity to stay in a historic mansion at the very centre of the Old City, and surrounded by a picturesque and artistic setting.

Dibai House dates from the 1670’s. Nevertheless, modern facilities have been carefully added, so that the house can boast of being able to offer a truly comfortable and altogether enjoyable accommodation.

Dibai House has ten rooms to cater for twenty guests. There are three single rooms, five twin rooms and two triple rooms. Two of the twin rooms are en-suite, whilst the other rooms share five modern bathrooms.

The house has various common areas, open to all:

  • The shah neshin, or talar. This room is a feature common to all traditional Persian residences and was historically the house’s main daily hub, and where guests were received and entertained. Nowadays it is used as a big living room.
  • Spacious shabestans, or basements, where the dining room is located.
  • The chai khane, or tea room, with a samovar and fresh local pastry, a place to chill out and relax enjoying a cup of tea
  • The magnificent hoz khane, or pool house, with intricate window and mirror works, paintings, reliefs and beautifully crafted walls.
  • Two sahn, or courtyards.

Here are some pics I took over my one week stay over there:

Dibaee House/Hotel in Isfahan

Dibaee House/Hotel in Isfahan..this is the Shabestaan where I always had my breakfast...oh God I so miss those home made jams 😦

Those home made jams

Those home made jams

Backyard of the Dibaee House/Hotel in Isfahan

Backyard of the Dibaee House/Hotel in Isfahan

Pool Room (as in fountain not the game) of Dibaee House

Pool Room (as in fountain not the game) of Dibai House..notice the shape of the pool..it's an octagon

Dibaee House (a hotel in Isfahan)

Dibai House (a hotel in Isfahan)

The front yard on Dibaee House

The front yard on Dibai House

The Shah Nesheen room (main living room)

The Shah Nesheen room (main living room)

Inside the Shah Nesheen

Inside the Shah Nesheen...check out that table...the daughter of the owner found it in another old mansion and turned it into a table :)...now how cool is it 😀 😀

The Shah Nesheen room

The Shah Nesheen room

The TV Room

The TV Room..very cozy

The TV Room

The TV Room-I miss sitting there late in the evenings with Miss Sufi (the owner) and her daughter watching Spanish programs

The dome ceiling of the pool room

The dome ceiling of the pool room--do you notice anything similar between this, the pool/fountain below it and the entrance hall? ...they are all octagons...I was told that the number 8 was considered lucky in the Zoroastrian religion and that's why a lot of houses that date back to the Safavid era reflect the number 8 in their designs.

The Tea Room

The Tea Room

Dibai House-Shah Nesheen

Dibai House-Shah Nesheen...I was told the windows were colorful so as to repel flies away

A double room in Dibai House

A double room in Dibai House...those two little compartments next to the door were where they used to lit paraffin candles in the old days. It was between two rooms so both could be lit. There was an opening in the compartment so the smoke would be sucked up to the roof

The right wall of the courtyard. This image is reflected on the left wall (see next pic)

The right wall of the courtyard. This image is reflected on the left wall (see next pic)

The left wall, which is a mirror reflection of the right wall

The left wall--a mirror reflection of the right wall

The courtyard of Dibai House...according to Ms.Sufi no chemcial paint was used in the renovation since these houses need to 'breath'

The courtyard of Dibai House...according to Ms.Sufi no chemical paint was used in the renovation since these houses need to 'breath'...do you see the openings on the steps over there? those were for sucking the moisture from the walls. Here's an interesting tidbit Sufi told me: The walls in those days were always built just high enough for only half the yard to be in shade

The entrance door to Dibai House (I am not sure if that's the orginal door but most likely it is very similiar)

The entrance door to Dibai House (I am not sure if that's the original door but most likely it is very similar). In all old houses in Iran, there were two door separate door knockers--one for females and one for men. One could tell if the visitor was male or female based on the sound of the knock

The land light house/minaret from Seljuky era (400 years ago) is visible from the courtyard

The land light house/minaret from Seljuky era ( eleventh-century-over 1000 years ago!!!) is visible from the courtyard. This lighthouse was used to guide travelers on the silk road...aaah how I miss sitting in that yard until early hours of the morning starring at the stars while listening to Haydeh

Meloo--the cat of Dibai House resting in the Shabestaan

Meloo--the cat of Dibai House resting in the Shabestaan

The balacony overlooking the pool. In the old days, the ladies used to sit up there and enjoy the brisk air

The balcony overlooking the pool. In the old days, the ladies used to sit up there and enjoy the brisk air

1. Qajary travelled to Europe a lot so a lot of the renancenace imagery is relfected in their art work. 2. The Qajaries loved shiny things, so they used a lot of mirror works. 3. The Safaivds loved simplicity and archs

An image on one of th wall of the pool house. The pool house was made during the Qajay period. According to Ms. Sufi (the landlady) one way of distinguishing a Safavid architecture and Qajay one is: 1. Qajary traveled to Europe a lot so a lot of the Renaissance imagery is reflected in their art work. 2. The Qajaries loved shiny things, so they used a lot of mirror works. 3. The Safaivds loved simplicity and arches

Some interesting facts from Dibai House site:

An outline of the history of Dibai House

The buildings comprising today Dibai House were originally part of a much larger residential complex know as Khaneye Harandi, or Harandi House. Named after its owner Hassan Harandi, a notorious, wealthy and influential textile merchant, the house was built in the 1670s to serve as a primary residence.

Khaneye Harandi was an excellent example of traditional Persian residential architecture. The complex occupied an entire block and comprised a beautiful and elaborate hoz khane, or pool house, ample stables and an additional building that served as caravanserai. Various adjacent shops, facing Harounie’s High Street and still in use today, were also part of Khaneye Harandi.

The house had the characteristic partitioning into an interior wing, the andaruni and an exterior wing, the biruni. The andaruni, as opposed to the biruni, was the part of the house in which the private quarters were established, and specifically where the women of the house could freely move about without fear of being seen by an outsider. The only men allowed in the andaruni were the lord of the house, those related to him, like his sons, and guests allowed in under special circumstances.

This impressive palace-like dwelling was divided into independent parts in the early second half of the nineteenth century and sold off separately. And it was at that time when a distinguished army officer called Dibai acquired the andaruni, which became an independent residence and would subsequently be known as Dibai House

The premises that make up Dibai House today are precisely those who bought the army officer. Eventually neglected by his heirs, Dibai House fell into disrepair and it was in a run-down state when found by its current owner. After its purchase, the house underwent an exhaustive restoration carried out by leading experts in the recovery of historic buildings, a no easy task that lasted over four years. The work done respected the house’s original architectural layout and design, leaving the building as close a state as it was then, almost four centuries ago. Wood from Isfahan’s forests and paints and plasters of non-chemical origin, produced using traditional methods, were used throughout.

The house’s pride is undoubtedly its hoz khane, one of the best preserved of its kind in Isfahan, if not the best. Its aesthetic roof scapes with an intriguing light well, as well as the intricate window and mirror works, paintings, reliefs, and a beautifully crafted walls make it an outstanding architectural feature.

Historical note: Harunie is named after after Aaron the Upright, or Harun al-Rashid (763-809). Born near Tehran, he was the fifth and most notable Abbasid caliph. Under his reign the Abbasid empire reached its apogee. Harun fought the Eastern Roman Empire and was an avid patron of letters and of arts. He had a trilling life and held a magnificent court on which many of the stories of the ‘Thousand and One Nights’ are based. While in a journey through Iran, he became ill and died in Tus (Khorasan province). He was buried in Mashad.

Dibai House was listed among the Iran’s National Cultural Heritage Sites in 2004

The Tale of a Keseh, Sefidab, and my Face

My stay in Isfahan (last week) was exactly what I wanted it to be: To reconnect my inner being with the mystic souls of my yester-years. I am not sure if the correct word to use here is ‘reconnect’? Did I ever float comfortably with these serene souls?

Anyhoo, I’ll tell the story of how I rekindled my soul in a later post—but what I wanna tell you now is WHY THE #$%^ MY FACE BURNS LIKE HELL

So, one early afternoon I was lingering in the labyrinth of Shah/Imam square’s bazaar. I chatted for a while with a lady working on a miniature-design clock

Isfahany Minaturist Artist working on a clock

Isfahany Miniaturist Artist working on a clock

And a grumpy copper-smith

Isfahany copper-smith

Isfahany copper-smith

Then I spotted a lively, beautifully aged woman sitting on the stone benches of the main entrance to the bazaar.

Copper Bazaar

Copper Bazaar

I overheard her talking to another old man. She had a Yazdy accent; my dad’s city. She noticed me–well I was kind of hard to miss. I was just standing there for a good 5 minutes starring at the pattern of the engravings on the old door to the bazaar

“Are you a school girl?”

Now at my age, that is always a delight to hear,

“Nope, I passed that stage long time back.”

“You are a photographer?” pointing to the camera hung around my neck.

“Hmmm, not a photographer; just like to capture the beauty of it. What’s that?”

Now I knew perfectly well what she was selling. I know it sounds absurd, but she kind of reminded me of a similar old woman sitting on these very cold stones 20 years ago when I first visited Isfahan who was also selling loofahs. Could she be the very one?

“These? These are keesehs (special kind of loofahs). You come from abroad, right? Here on vacation?”

I smile and just nod my head.

“Well my dear, we call these loofahs.”

That’s so sweet, she is explaining to me what a loofah is. Don’t know why she suddenly felt like the grandmother I never knew.

“And what are these?” I asked pointing to the Sefidab (traditional Iranian soap)

Keeseh and Sefidab

Keeseh and Sefidab

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Now before you start rolling your eyes, yes, I do know what sefidab is…though I myself have never used them before. But her eyes, tone of voice, smile, all signaled to me that she wants to talk about keeseh and sefidab. So I asked:

“What do I do with this?”

Ever so delicately,s he took out one sefidab and then looked up at me,

“See this is a keeseh. You take this and you rub two strokes on the keeseh, then you take the keeseh and scrub your skin with it. Oooooooh, your skin would become sooooooo clean, your face would glow with redness, your cheeks would become so red, just like a baby, oooh you would be so so so so glowing. So much dirt would come off your skin that you would be actually able to see them on the keeseh!!”

“So would I have to use water?”

Need I remind you guys not to roll your eyes!! But I think I did shock her with that question. She paused for a while and then said:

“Yes, my daughter, there’s water in the bathroom. You should take a bath with water.”

Ok, fine I deserved that. But would you believe she wasn’t sarcastic when she said that. She genuinely wanted to teach me.

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Now since I really wanted to rekindle with my lost tradition, and was looking forward to having my cheeks become baby-like, I got a bag of sefiab, the keeseh loofah and a face loofah.

So last week I decided to take a bath the way my ancestors did several hundred years ago.

Now when my mommy dear saw the keseh and sefidab, she warned me, “I hope you got those at an ‘Atary’ (a traditional Iranian herbal/natural medicine shop)

“Nope! I got them from an old street vendor from some remote village near Yazd. She had a cloth laid out in imam square in Isfahan, a very charming woman.”

“I wouldn’t use it if I were you; most likely it isn’t very ….”

I didn’t hear the end of that sentence for by then I was already rubbing that Sefidab on the keseh.

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1 hour later—my skin did turn red, yeaaaah it was working

3 hours later–skin still red, way too red

5 hours later—skin unnaturally way too red

The next day at work—colleagues point, gasp and awe at the redness of my cheeks when they passed by. Some even seemed scared

2 days later—skin less red now but very dry

2.5 days later—skin so dry brother is thinking of using it as sandpaper for his project

4 days later—all is back to normal

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PS. Ok, so apparently the culprit over here was not the poor sefidab, the keeseh, or that wonderful lady, the problem was….ehhmm…it was…moi ..i used the body keseh on my face coz I figured hey why not up the dosage a bit 🙂 So I scrubbed, scrubbed like lady Macbeth scrubbing the blood off her hands—except she wanted to rub the red off, I got it on 🙂

Colors of Malaysia 2008

Ok, so I laid my fingers of these scrambled up keys, hoping that somehow they would start randomly pressing the letters to form a proper post.

Nothing

Nothing was pressed.

My fingers laid there motionless.

Well since I couldn’t get any use out of the keys, I laid my thumb and index finger on the mouse pad…yep they got to work…the only thing they know how to do is copy and paste…I did that for my last post…so for this post I would copy and paste some pics from my trip to Malaysia…enjoy:

First set of pics: Colors of Malaysia 2008

So on the 24th of May the “Colours of Malaysia Festival” was held in Putrajaya. [I am gonna come back and add some info on this city and each pic later..forgive my laziness for the time being]

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The festival was held in front of the Minister of Justice building. Here are the different facades of it throughout the festival:


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The whole show was performed on this stage. Now since only the media and special invited guests were allowed to watch the show upfront, my friend and I sneaked in 😀 😀 😀 . But i had to be very careful so i didn’t budge from my seat, all the pics were taken from this angle and this distance. Luckily my camera has a good zoom so I was able to take some close up pics

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It started off with a shadow play:

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The VIP guests that night were The Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib and Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman. Don’t know which one he is, i was passing by and snapped a pic of one of them:

And the whole festival ended with a spectacke display of fireworks:

Part one of my trip to Malaysia is here: https://mymagicaldroplets.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/trip-to-malaysia-kl-1/

Windmills of My Mind

Neverending circles

Never ending circles

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I want my inner zombies back…
Being blissfully numb is gnawing at my ferocity.. .
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Had been blissful before, had been numb before…just never blissfully numb
Yeah, I want my inner zombies back, this utopia is too drone
Want my dystopia back
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The winds have been turning the windmills of my mind again…
Sleep is laden with illusionary images again…
The reel, the snowball, the carnival balloon, the carousel are all here
Was it something I said, was it something I should have said
Will I ever get put the fragments together, will the puzzle be ever completed
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I want this jangle to irate me, I want this temple to misguide me
I want to trade this blissful numbness for a teacher …for a joker
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First I will break the wings of my angel,
Then I will bury my dancing shoes
How should I drown out the piper I wonder?
Need to inject some toxins in my spirit,
Need to combat the voice within
Need to dry out the sweet rain
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I can’t tell,
Can’t tell where I left my soul shaker
Don’t know,
I don’t know how to throw the dice on the game of snakes and ladder anymore

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Wrote this at wee hour of a Thursday morning after listening to “Windmills of your Mind” over and over again. I first heard this song in music class in grade 2 or 3. The melody was stuck somewhere at the back of my ‘windmills’ for many years. I ‘found’ the song 2 years ago on one the blogs but didn’t quite get it till this morning. Finally the lyrics clicked; now that my mind is entangled in the same whirlpool

The original version of the song and in my opinion the best version

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Dusty Springfield’s version is the best female version of it.

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Lyrics

The Windmills Of Your Mind

(from “The Thomas Crown Affair”)

Music by Michel Legrand
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman

Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turning
Running rings around the moon

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream.

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly
Was it something that you said
Lovers walking along the shore,
Leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand

Pictures hanging in a hallway
And a fragment of a song
Half remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong

When you knew that it was over
In the autumn of goodbyes
For a moment
You could not recall the color of his eyes

[if a man is singing, this part would be:]

When you knew that it was over
Were you suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the color of her hair?

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
As the images unwind
Like the circle that you find
In the windmills of your mind

I am a “Sweet Flower”

I took this pic of a Hibiscus (Malaysia's National Flower) in Cameron..or was this at the Hibiscus Garden in KL?...Damn my memory!!

Sweet like moi

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So I am chatting online with a friend:

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Me: LOL , ROFL, LOL ….You know what? I now officially crown you as The Food Queen.

Her: Ahhh, thanks, so now that I am knighted, what do I get?

Me: You have the honor of getting a link from me.

Her: Oh goody, [Darya] sharing a link, yipeeee…..

Me: [Ignoring her sarcastic tone] Here you go: 100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die

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[20 minutes later, after going through the list one by one together]

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Her: Hahaha, I have also tried no. 13 flowers.

Me: ….ooookkaaaay….guess I could also crown you as The Bizarre Queen.

Her: My friends and I tried chrysanthemum when we were kids.

Me: So what does it taste like?

Her: Sweet, it was a sweet flower.

Me: Hey, that’s my name…sweet flower.

Her: come again??!!

Me: My name in Persian translates to “Sweet Flower”. See my first name means Sweet, and my last name means what something is when it has been raised, and raise has a meaning similar to rise and the past tense of rise is rose and rose is also a flower; so there you go, my last name translates to flower. So I am a ‘Sweet Flower’.

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The emotion she sent me then will remain censored :O