April 17, 2012

Forgetting Love in Everyday Life

Posted in Lifestyle tagged , at 10:50 pm by potofcallaloo

Photo by Aunty Owwee

Everyone likes to talk about how the world is devoid of love.

We lament its absence in the world, when we hear tragic news stories of war and crime, but fail to pick out glaring instances where we show a lack of it in our own lives towards others.

We preach love, but we don’t share it.

Love is kindness, yet we don’t give it.

While on the bus today a very feeble old lady boarded. As usual with these hasty bus drivers, the bus took off so quickly she hadn’t the chance to sit. She stood where she was, gripping onto the pole for dear life, and terror was etched across her face.

I remembered when I couldn’t walk on a moving bus. And I thought of my bad days when my pains are so awful it hurts to walk, but I have to anyway.

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing

I offered my tiny seat which was nearest to her, but she was reluctant. So I offered to help her to a more spacious seat.

She seemed shocked at this, and now I understand why.

People are so inconsiderate and selfish, that even when it costs them nothing to show a little love and kindness they don’t.

Anyway, given my feet problems and issues with balance, I almost lost it while helping her to her seat. Thank heavens I grabbed the pole in the nick of time!

The well built 30-something year old man sitting mere inches from us, tapping away at a game on his phone, stared at our every move, yet never offered to help.

We get what we give

We managed to make it to the seat in one piece nevertheless.  Two stops later, a group of about 10 elderly ladies leaving some older chic gathering got on board, and there weren’t enough seats for them.

The same athletic man paused from his game to watch them scurry about looking for seats, but never offered, though he was sitting in one of those specially reserved for the disabled or elderly.

I gave up my seat, and the elderly lady was so kind to ask me if I was sure I wanted to. She or any of them could have been my Ma. And I know if my Ma had to travel on her own back home, I’d like someone to offer her their seat.

But people don’t think about these things – like how we will get back what we give. So when we fail to be kind to others because it’s an inconvenience to our laziness and selfishness, that suits us fine. But when others fail to be kind to us, we throw a fit about how the world has changed.

Anyway, when the seat I was standing next to became free, another the older Aunties looked at it and I told her she should sit. She asked me if I didn’t want to instead. Imagine, the 70-something year old showing concern and kindness to me!  It really warmed my heart to know that some people still think of others. Although she was the one who clearly needed the seat more than me.

And, it also made me reconsider getting that walking stick so next time I can accidentally poke that dude who was simply too unconcerned to offer his seat to those who needed it most.

For your consideration:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails

Photo by Lel4nd

Where do you see a lack of love in everyday life?

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March 29, 2012

When Forevers become Temporary

Posted in Lifestyle tagged , , , , , at 4:36 am by potofcallaloo

PHoto b yCarbonNYC

Life has a funny way of taking some forevers and turning them into temporaries (and vice versa but that talk’s for another day)

Consider the myriad of ways in which this plays out. You know when some people plan and dream or hope for forever with someone special, and they’re so convicted that it’s with  that soul forever will be, only to get a bitter let down of ‘oops it was a temporary.’

Or like when a forever friend is no longer there, sometimes because the friendship has run its course, or sometimes because something got in the way. Like death.

When forevers morph into temporaries it can be devastating no matter what your forever was. Though, I have some friends who would love the West Indies Cricket Team’s forever-losing-streak to become a temporary.

But not those kind of instances I mean.  I’m referring to the more serious kinds of life alterations that really change people or affect them immensely. I’ve been thinking about why this happens, and how, if one could, lessen the impact of a forever turning into a temporary.

The Nature of Life

Now, I know people say nothing in life lasts forever. So us mortal earthlings like to say. But for the purpose of this blog let’s say forever is a lifetime ok?

What do you do when a forever dream, friend, love, hope, purpose… becomes lost to the temporary or ever-changing nature of life? Do you let go and try to move on? Or for those things that are impossible to let go of, do you pack them away in your internal closet, knowing they’ll be with you forever and just pretend to carry on? (Imagine things fall through with your soul mate, or your life-long career dream, then what?)

Or is it better to not expect any forevers at all, and in this way avoid hurt? So when marriage becomes divorce, love becomes bitter or friends are lost by untimely deaths, we can more easily adjust. Would it be easier?

Nelly Furtado’s haunting lyrics in All Good Things allude to the fleeting nature of life. She sings ‘Flames to dust/ Lovers to friends/Why do all good things come to an end?’

I’d like to know. Of course no amount of questions we ask will alter the nature of life, but maybe by asking questions we might be able to find ways of better transitioning through its disappointing vicissitudes.

Though, tangibles won’t last in this life just as we are but dust in the wind, the greatest consolation probably lies in the fact that there are some things that will always remain: hope, faith and love.

Have you had to deal with a forever turning into a temporary? What was it and how did you deal with the change?
It would be great to hear your thoughts!

March 11, 2012

Food for Bullies

Posted in Lifestyle tagged , , , at 12:07 am by potofcallaloo

Photo by Chesi-Fotos

We are a society failing the victims of bullying, while fuelling and feeding those doing the dirty work.

Every time we turn a blind eye or ear to the cries, complaints and pleas of our young people, our colleagues at work, family and friends, and let bullies go unpunished, we are failing our own.

We failed 14 year old Eden Wormer.

She committed suicide on Wednesday after enduring two years of unrelenting bullying, by classmates at the Cascade Middle School in Vancouver, Washington.

Eden’s sister said she tried desperately to fit in. She dyed her hair, tanned her skin, got contact lenses but the bullies never stopped.

She cried, and took her plight public, with frequent posts on Facebook that sent glaring red lights signalling trouble.

The Impact

We don’t know if anyone took notice, but on Wednesday Eden gave up and ended her life.

Her school has said it’s investigating to see if she ever reported the incidents, while Vancouver police said they haven’t found any evidence to suggest that “the bullying rose to the level of a crime.”

Seriously?

How many more Edens must die or suffer before society realises the devastating impact of bullying on its victims? Bullying is a form of abuse.

Apparently, one media house said it only became aware of the tragedy while investigating the case of another student, Izaya Hamilton, who suffered a black eye, bruises and a bump on the head at the hands of bullies.

Bullying takes on many different forms, and can form part of verbal, emotional abuse and physical abuse. I can only assume that society’s failure to act is due to sceptism over the seriousness of bullying. Any uncertainty or denial in that regard can easily be fixed by examining the evidence.
There’s no shortage of statistics, examples or research pointing to the ramifications of bullying in the school, workplace or home.

How to help

Bullying isn’t uncommon, and as someone who has suffered from it, I have firsthand experience of how dismissive people can be when it’s reported (people meaning society, those in authority and yes, even our loved ones!).

Some people even try to blame victims, suggesting that it’s probably something they did unintentionally to prod others into bullying them.

It gets that crass.

These attitudes do NOT help victims of bullying.

Among other things, anti-bullying charities say we can actually help by:

∙ Listening
∙ Taking victims seriously and reassuring them

∙ Helping come up with a plan of action

∙ Reporting it to those in authority

No one should have to endure being hurt like this.

Take a stand against bullying.

February 12, 2012

A Legend Gone

Posted in Art & Culture, Lifestyle tagged , , , , at 3:09 am by potofcallaloo

Whitney Houston is dead.

Photo by Alisha Nurse

No matter how many times I read it, or see these words plastered across international news websites, this harsh reality is hard to come to terms with.

The world is mourning the loss of this celebrated songstress whose soulful, powerful voice once bellowed distinctively incomparable notes that could move even the coldest of us to tears.

CBS describes her as being born into “greatness.” And who could dispute that?  She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin of pop diva Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

She gave us many award winning hits which I know I don’t have to name, because whichever generation you’re from you know them, and you’re probably listening to them right now, as you reminisce with me and the rest of the world.

Whitney performing at Good Morning America promotional concert in New York

Comeback

Her influence was great, is great I should say.

But her successful career was eclipsed by drug abuse and a turbulent marriage to Bobby Brown.

No one forgot about her though.

When it was announced she’d be making a comeback in 2009, fans went ballistic.

My two friends and I queued for hours outside New York’s Central Park in 2009 to see her perform.

The press gave her bad reviews, as the toll of drug abuse on her once strong vocals became obvious.

Love for Whitney

But the fans at Central Park didn’t care.

Overcome by emotion during her performance of I Look to You

We were happy to see Whitney rebounding. As we sung along to I Look to You, I came close to tears.

And I wasn’t the only one.

Whitney couldn’t hit the notes as she did in the past, but this was her testimony. She was openly sincere, and vulnerable before us thousands, lifting her hands to the heavens in gratitude, as her emotions overtook her.

Our world is all the poorer for having lost Whitney. But she still graced us with her presence for 48 years. During that time she’s inspired us, taught us many life lessons, and left us a great legacy that will never be forgotten.

RIP Whitney Houston.

Whitney shares the stage with her daughter Bobbi Kristina

February 6, 2012

The ϢЯong Side of 25

Posted in Lifestyle tagged , , , , at 2:42 pm by potofcallaloo

The 20s and 30s should be full of cheer

Photo by Candice Ashby (GummyPiglet.Photography)

People laugh when I talk about it, but it’s not that funny when you wake up on the wrong side of 25 only to realise you haven’t accomplished all the things you thought you would have.

Let’s see, that’s the relationship, the career, the decent bank savings, the mortgage… everything basically.

This, after investing years of time, money, energy, emotions, and did I mention energy? into studying, and building relationships and bonds that you hope would mature into fruitful products in due course.

When these efforts fail to materialise into enriching 20 & 30-something lives with direction, this can be very stressful and depressing for some young adults like myself. This woeful period is called the quarter life crisis.

No I did not just make that up.

Just Google ‘quarter life crisis’ and see the slew of search results it brings up.

Quarter life Crisis

You may be sceptical about it, seeing that only mid 40-something year olds have been thought to suffer from life crises.

But according to research (and frequent chats with my friends), I am not the only 20 or 30 something year old going through this.

British Researcher Oliver Robinson says that the quarter life crisis usually happens between 25 and 35, when young people are feeling the pressure to succeed in relationships, finances and careers before hitting 30.

Of the 1,100 young people he surveyed last year, 32% said they were under pressure to marry and have kids by 30; two in five worried over not earning enough, and 21% wanted a total career change.

And apparently one third of all people in their 20s feel depressed.

Happy Ending?

Not to mention the recent global recession has added to our woes, leaving in its wake millions of fresh faced graduates to compete for jobs with already unemployed, or job hunting 20 and 30-something year old professionals.

Nevermind. Both daddy and Robinson say our troubles won’t last: S

The quarter life crisis can be a catalyst for change, eventually leading us to build new promising lives for ourselves, Robinson says.

He explains that we usually pass through the following five phases of the quarter life crisis:

Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.
Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.
Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.
Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.
Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.

If the panic has started to set in, hopefully you won’t don’t dilly dally too much. Apparently it can take us as long as two years to pass through the crisis.

See you on the other side! (hopefully).

June 9, 2011

Teen cancer patient’s bucket list popular on internet

Posted in Lifestyle tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:54 am by potofcallaloo

Alice and her dog Mabel Photo by London Media

Advised by her mother that life is what you make it, 15 year old Alice Pyne decided to pen a bucket list of things to do before she dies of cancer.

She posted her candid writings on a blog which on Wednesday, Twitter trended as one of the most talked about subjects on the social networking site that has an estimated 200 million users.

By Thursday morning #alicebucketlist was the third most talked about term in the world.

Thousands of users including celebrities like Manchester United footballer Rio Ferdinand and Hollywoodactor Channing Tatum have alerted users to Alice’s blog, turning it into one of the most talked about subjects in Britain.

Alice, who is from Ulverston in North West England has been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the past four years and writes that “now I know that the cancer is gaining on me and it doesn’t look like I’m going to win this one 😦 I’m hoping to write in here as much as I can and I’m also going to show my bucket list which I’m trying to get done before I have to go. Hopefully, I’ll update as I tick each one off the list :)”

Alice has said she’s overwhelmed by the unexpected worldwide support. So far thousands of people have commented on her blog.

On Wednesday, her MP John Woodcock raised the issue with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“At the top of the list is a call to make everyone sign up to be a bone marrow donor, so will he work with the leader of the opposition and I to address why too few people are currently on this life-saving register?”

Cameron responded that “will certainly do that”.

The popularity of her blog may help her achieve some of her targets, as twitter users urged each other to donate bone marrow, to aid Alice in achieving her second goal of getting every one to “sign up to be a bone marrow donor.”

Also on her list is to go swimming with sharks, meet the band Take That and to “have a nice picture taken with Mabel” her dog.

But Alice says she doesn’t expect to do everything on her list like travelling to Kenya or training dophins due to being sick.

The idea of a bucket list was made popular by the 2008 film of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman who acted as terminally ill patients who set out to fulfill their life’s dreams before ‘kicking the bucket.’

Alice said it was her mother who encouraged her to make the now popular list.

“Mum always tells me that life is what we make of it and so I’m going to make the best of what I have and because there were so many things I still wanted to do, mum suggested that I turn my ideas into a bucket list.”

You can read Alice’s blog at http://alicepyne.blogspot.com/.

December 4, 2010

Trini Christmas Must-Haves

Posted in Art & Culture, Lifestyle tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:04 am by potofcallaloo

Following the continuing popularity of last year’s Christmas blogAh Trini Christmas in London? You Reckon? I decided to satiate the appetites of all you Trinis living abroad or those of you who are just curious about Christmas in the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the next weeks leading up the holiday I’ll blog on some of the essentials of ah Trini Christmas, letting you in on our wonderful parang music and culture, foods, customs and traditions.

Today however, I’m starting light with a list of Trini must-haves when celebrating the festive season.

Whether you’re lucky enough to be on the island’s soil or away in the wintery cold, this list highlights some fundamentals for making it ah true Trini Christmas in London, Queens, Sydney, Delhi, Marrakech… well you get the point. Feel free to add anything I’ve forgotten or any of your favourite must-haves to the list.

1. Sorrel or ginger beer (we prefer making fresh sorrel- a delightful juice made from the extracts of the red sepals of the Roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa). It has a kind of kiwi-ish taste and when you add sugar, spice, some cloves and water yummmz the end result is fantastic! I haven’t seen any imported sorrel at shops in London but maybe we can get it in a tin somewhere? If not there’s always Shandy Carib Sorrel.

2. Pastelles – derived from the island’s Hispanic heritage, pastelles are a sort of steamed cornmeal pie filled with a seasoned meat of choice with added raisins, olives, peppers and seasonings, and wrapped in banana leaves. These aren’t too hard to make and they’ll leave your mouth watering for more!

3. Trinidadian black (fruit) cake –This favourite fruit cake has rum in it and a variety of fruits. Traditionally, many Trinis love soaking the fruits in cherry brandy for weeks before baking. Not my favourite but I haven’t met a Trini who can survive Christmas without it.

4. Parang music – This genre of folk music is also derived from the island’s Spanish heritage and also forms part of a social custom of merry making. Songs are sung in Spanish traditionally to the sounds of music made by the cautro, mandolin, base box and shac shac.

5. Paranging (the custom) – Go to your neighbor’s or friend’s house preferably stringing  a cautro singing an old parang tune. In the days of yore you’d be invited in to eat lots of tasty Christmas delights. Nowadays alot has changed but you can still go paranging to your circle of family and friends wherever in the world you are.

6. Trini Cassava pone – Ohh gawd! (a Trini exclamation) This is a serious taste bud charmer. Made from grated cassava, mixed with grated coconut, essence, spice, condensed milk, raisins if you like and in my family we use grated pumpkin and sweet potato… this sweet bread-like treat is bound to leave you in a dreamy state. Please take caution! J

7. Trinidad Punch de Creme – a kind of egg nog punch made with rum, eggs, lime, milk, spices and flavouring.Mmmmmmmmm…. is all I can say!

Ok… time for you to add your favourite Trini Christmas must haves to the list, whether it’s food or some other bit that will get your Christmas holiday kicking wherever in the world you are.

August 7, 2010

Hidden Caribbeans

Posted in Art & Culture, Lifestyle tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:07 pm by potofcallaloo

*Nominated for the ‘Rights in Motion’ Award Screening at the Bang! Short Film Festival Nottingham, 2010*

Among the United Kingdom’s numerous ethnic groups, there is relatively unknown community of about 30,000.

To much of the UK, Indo-Caribbeans are invisible.

This documentary explores how the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora in London is using Chutney music and other Indo- Caribbean cultural forms as an expression of their identity, with the hope of establishing a stronger cultural presence and distinct identity here.

Produced by Alisha Nurse as final project for a Master of Arts Degree in International Journalism -Broadcast with Merit at the University of Westminster 2010.

June 8, 2010

The New Mephedrone

Posted in Health, Lifestyle tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:11 am by potofcallaloo

Article dated May, 2010

By Alisha Nurse

The controversial drug mephedrone had been making headlines for several weeks and has been made illegal as a result. But already there’s a replacement drug on the market picking up where mephedrone left off and reported to be even more lethal.

Naphyrone is marketed as NRG1 or Energy-1 and is widely available for purchase online.

Researchers and drug agencies say they know little or nothing of its side effects but are warning people to steer clear of the potentially dangerous drug.

A source at a national drugs charity said that relevant agencies have been sent scampering to conduct investigations into this new substance and its presence on the market, but are careful not to draw negative attention alerting more and more young people to the drug.

However, young people across the United Kingdom are already conducting experiments of their own.

I join an internet drugs forum where hundreds of thousands of people across the globe are discussing their experiences with various drugs, including legal highs like naphyrone, the newest in-thing.

Experiences

“If anyone fancies a dabble please think hard about the risks and be careful with the dose – it is F****** STRONG,” warns one user from the UK, who reports experiencing scrambled thoughts, paranoia and numbness before passing out for days.

Other users report experiencing heartburn, chest pains, hallucination, insomnia, dizzy spells, nose bleed, accelerated heart beat, restricted blood flow and weakness.

Another user who says his heart felt “restricted” warns that, “this is a very intense, potent and potentially dangerous product.”

Naphyrone was derived from the illegal class C drug Pyrovalerone (once used as an appetite suppressant for weight loss).

It comes in a white powdery form and is ingested nasally.

“Legal does not mean safe”

Dr Alun Morinan, scientific advisor to the drugs charity Hope UK and research scientist at the National Addiction Centre, Kings College says as more drugs are banned, many people are likely to turn to legal alternatives to avoid a criminal record.

“However, legal does not mean safe, especially as we know very little about its effects and whether it causes long term irreversible damage” he says.

He says what’s even more worrying is that drugs like napyrone are popular among teenagers due to easy access and low cost.

Not for Human Consumption

My phone calls, messages and email inquiries to several online head shops promoting the drug went unanswered.

However, most websites market naypyrone openly but as “Plant Food and Research Chemical not for human consumption.”

One online shop advertises naphyrone as a “pond cleaner”, the cheapest price at £5.00, with the warning that “it is not advised to add more than 0.2grams to one pond within 24 hours or adverse effects may be experienced by your pond life.”

Later on, it states in bold, “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.”

In reality, online shops use the language of online drugs forums where people do not acknowledge using legal highs but attribute usage to their ‘pets’ or friends for instance.

“Pond” as used by this online shop in question is metaphoric for drug users.

At another online shop, the cheapest bottle goes at £9.00. In fact, it doesn’t come cheap at all, but prices can be competitive in this market where shop owners are trying to make a profit before amendments to laws eventually ban their hit sellers.

Another website offers home delivery with a ‘special’ starting from £3.50.

Cat and Mouse

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is now investigating the case of naphyrone.

Officials declined an interview but inarguably, the ACMD is caught up in a cat and mouse game, struggling to stay ahead of backstreet chemists supplying the legal drug.

The ACMD’s 2010 report on mephedrone mentions naphyrone but states the drug could not be covered under the generic ban of cathinones, of which mephedrone was the prime concern.

Cathinone is a naturally occurring stimulant found in the khat plant and used in drugs like ecstasy and mephedrone. It is controlled but the make-up of legal drugs like naphyrone is altered to evade the law.

The ACMD’s report states that “Irrespective of whether controls for the cathinones are implemented under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the rapidity and easy availability of mephedrone and other cathinones (including vendors that can deliver to individual addresses) does raise the question of whether other legislation and regulation should be available.”

Public Pressure

This question is one Dr Morinun has considered as well. He argues that the mephedrone ban came as a consequence of public pressure rather than medical scientific evidence.

“It was also a good vote winner. I think there should be a more reasoned approach to naphyrone but a start might be to ban its import – it has no legitimate use” he says.

DrugScope’s Chief Executive Officer Martin Barnes says that “Mephedrone and related cathinones were classified as Class B drugs because their harms are similar to other substances controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is likely that in time, some of the compounds now being sold as replacements for mephedrone will also be brought under the Act.”

This is likely to present a challenge to the new government.

Because the recurring problem, according to the ACMD report is that “the market for derivatives of cathonines is still evolving and new replacements will continue to appear.”

The ACMD says it is considering a number of approaches like a ban that includes the specific names of substances and several generic definitions.

While this may be an option, it means the ACMD and the Cameron-Clegg administration will be faced with the repetitive task of continuously banning new legal drugs.

Deaths

Whatever approach the ACMD uses, public pressure is likely to start mounting again if any deaths are linked to naphyrone.

In the recent past, mephedrone has been blamed for at least 18 deaths in England and seven in Scotland.

On a popular drug forum, many fear that it’s only a matter of time before naphyrone begins to claim lives as well.

“This drug will kill people I have no doubt about that, it’s too powerful at a relatively low dose and the way it works means people are quite likely to redose and you don’t really know how bad things are until an hour or so after the redoes” says a 24 year old male, going by the name Boris.

Earlier, he reports re-dosing to calm his anxiety and almost phones an ambulance for fear of having a heart attack.

The deceptive trap that many naphyrone users like Boris apparently find themselves in is after re-dosing to amplify the effects or calm anxieties almost all report feeling extreme pressure on their hearts.

Worry

Now many users are worried that cardiovascular arrest might be a likely consequence of over dosing on naphyrone.

The problem here with legal unregulated drugs is that no one knows how much is too much; of course, until there’s a fatality.

It’s a message that drug charities can’t seem to reiterate enough.

“Using any drug comes with risks attached, but the really worrying thing about the numerous chemicals now being marketed as legal replacements to mephedrone is how little is known about them and their effects.  Many of the chemicals now on sale have either never been clinically tested or have undergone only limited research” says Drug Scope’s CEO Martin Barnes.

Boris, who’s experimented with napyrone vows never to touch it again.
“If you dose again to remove anxiety or to try and obtain euphoria similar to mephedrone you are putting ur heart into a very very dangerous position and the side effects are long lasting. PLEASE USE EXTREAME CAUTION BUT MY ADVICE IS TO LEAVE THIS BAG OF DEATH ALONE” he warns in an online message.

His post attracts a slew of comments from agreeing naphyrone users.

Interest in the mephedrone replacement is showing no sign of curbing however.

Any new controls are guaranteed to cause starkly similar reactions to the mephedrone ban. The price of naphyrone will skyrocket on the black market and drug users will stockpile for rainy days until yet another precarious replacement hits the legal drug scene.

May 20, 2010

Preserving Peking Opera

Posted in Art & Culture, Lifestyle tagged , , , , , , at 9:16 pm by potofcallaloo

For centuries the Peking Opera has been a national treasure of China-  A prestigious artform combining recitals, dance, singing and acrobatics. Today, this colourful artform faces declining popularity among young Chinese people everywhere, but has found a new home in the most unlikely of places – London.

Produced by Alisha Nurse and Zhang Tongfei

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