Happy Travels, Xinnan Li and Licole Paroly
10 Spring Festival by Stephanie Li
6 Greece by Licole Paroly
8 Damba by Rebecca Kimmel
For this issue, the Tufts Traveler is focusing on festivals around the world. We have contributions discussing celebrations from Japan, Greece, Tufts, and more! We hope you enjoy reading about these exciting events.
As spring approaches, we are excited to introduce Tufts to the new Traveler team. We have an enthusiastic, well-traveled group of contributors: on the next page, you can see a map of the places we explored during 2012, and our articles reflect our passion for travel. On our blog you have seen us expand our outlets for discussions of travel. Whether you are currently studying abroad or went hiking over the weekend here in Boston, please share your experiences and love for exploration with us at tuftstraveler.wordpress.com.
22 Photo Contest
20 Laos by Julia Russell
18 Matsuri by Julia McDaniel
16 Cusco, Peru by Elizabeth Berrang
13 Japan by Licole Paroly
12 Central Park by Alison Graham
14 Singapore Day by Wilson Tang
Editors-in-Chief · Xinnan Li · Licole Paroly · Layout Editor · Mike Yeung · Photo Editor · Wilson Tang · Literary Editor · Patrick McGrath · Staff Editors · Kimberley Alyssa · Elizabeth Berrang · Rebecca Kimmel · Pauline Leong · Chris Li · Kyra Sturgill · Contributors · Elizabeth Berrang · Alison Graham · Rebecca Kimmel · Stephanie Li · Xinnan Li · Samuel Lipoff · Julia McDaniel · Matthew Modoono · Overseas Singaporean Unit · Licole Paroly · Julia Russell · Yuki Tanimoto · Wilson Tang · Scott Tingley · Public Relations · Chris Li · Blog Director · Stephanie Li · Julia Russell 3
Where did our staff travel this summer?
Maine Massachusetts Rhode Island
Guatemala Costa Rica
U.K. Netherland Belgium Germany France Spain Italy Greece
U.A.E Saudi Arabia Myanmar
Hong Kong Laos Macau
Vietnam Cambodia Thailand
ImagestakeninJuly2004fromMODIS(ModerateResolutionImagingSpectroradiometer),a keyinstrumentonboardNASAâ€™sTerrasatellite.DesigninspiredbyaBritishAirwaysâ€™routemap. 5
A Grecian Moon Licole Paroly
he moon was full and soft above our heads and the wind was warm and brisk. The scent of mastiha, resiny and biting, wafted upwards from our glasses and mingled with the smell of dolmades. Our dinner table faced the Acropolis in the old city in Athens and my mother,
sister and I sat looking up at it in our after-dinner glow. As we watched, a long, slinking line of well-dressed Athenians wound up the hill towards the ancient buildings. Slowly, the moon dimmed darker and glowed orange; it was the largest full moon of the summer. Our waiter hurried over to our table and handed us our check without being asked for it. â€œGo, go! Up!â€? he told us. On the night of the August full moon, all of Greece opens the gates
to its most treasured historical sights. Greeks and tourists alike swarm to these locations, and we had to opportunity to follow suit. I felt incredibly lucky to be able to see the ruins of Greek history scattered over the land in the sunlight, but to be able to see the white marble of the Acropolis dusted in moonlight, surrounded by celebrating Athenians, was another kind of special. People were playing music and selling sweets, extending friendship to strangers and celebrating old bonds. Old and new mingled indivisibly on the hilltop. The marble was orange-hued, and I was torn between exploring the ruins and looking up at the hovering, hanging moon. For a moment, I looked at the stones beneath my feet. Long ago someone shaped these stones, gave them corners and smooth sides and a home in this place of history and culture and lost religion. The mason might have wondered what mark he would leave on history; his im-
print remains here still. I hoped mine would linger too. The columns were endless towers of marble and I slid my fingers across the creamy stone. I walked, tripping over loose stones, to the very edge of the earthy, rock-strewn platform and look up once more at the sky. Over the next few weeks I traveled across Greece and on to Egypt, Kenya, and Tanzania. I watched the sun rise from the basket of a hot air balloon over the Serengeti, saw the stars from the streets of Cairo, walked through the Temple of Karnak in the hot hazy twilight, watched elephants parade through lush green foliage through so many mornings. I walked along the Nile, explored the Great Pyramid, drank hot coffee in Nairobi, felt the slimy-soft tongue of a giraffe as I fed it, watched cheetahs hunt and sleep and bathe on the hot African plains and nothing was enough to make me forget the orange night on the white marble hilltop.
Photo Credit: Eva Parish, Kathryn Robinson
World Damba Festival Rebecca Kimmel
ufts hosted its first World Damba Festival on September 15th. Throughout the weekend, approximately 300 Tufts students, professors, members of the community and individuals, both from and not from Africa, reenacted the traditional African festival. Associate Professor of Music at Tufts David Locke, the main organizer of the event on campus, shares his thoughts as he looks back at this special weekend: What is Damba? Damba is an annual festival that occurs once a year according to the lunar calendar. It is celebrated by a number of ethnic groups that reside in Western Africa in the southern savanna region. The event at Tufts focused on the country of Ghana, which has the cultural tradition of doing Damba. What does the festival celebrate? Its purpose can have three parts. One is an Islamic festival relating to marking the birth of the prophet Mohammad. Then it has a traditional kingship or chieftaincy dimension where people pay homage to their traditional royal families. It also has a family dimension not unlike Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter where people come back home. The breadwinners of the family provide new clothes or hats, and people like to dress up. Finally, I should say that it is an opportunity, because people come together to think about ways that they can mobilize for political action or think about community development and issues of public health and infrastructure, to address problems in the community and8 think about solutions to their challenges.
Photos by Matthew Modoono, Scott Tingley, and Yuki Tanimoto
What were some highlights of the festival? I would say a highlight of the festival was when President Monaco got out and danced to the live drumming and accolades of the many people who were present. The Tufts people enjoyed seeing him dance, and the Africans were impressed that a university present would join in their festivities in that sort of whole body, physical way. I think for most of the participants who were not from Tufts and who were people from this part of Africa, the highlight for them was the opportunity for them to come together in fellowship and reunion and to feel their commonalities− to think of themselves as a constituency and a unified group− and that is in fact what the Damba festival in Africa is supposed to do− to create the feeling that we all share this common culture and history. Why do you think this was an important event for Tufts? For one thing, it helped kick off the new Africana Studies major. Also, it showed that Tufts is a welcoming place to everyone− to Africans and to black people who may sometimes have the perception that Tufts is not a welcoming place for them. That is not the way that I know Tufts to be, but unfortunately it is the perception that some people have. And here was Tufts totally backing this event− putting its money where its mouth is, so to say. Also, a lot of the values that Tufts has− internationalism and public citizenship, research and scholarship and teaching− having them be connected to the real world− this was doing that. It was interdisciplinary, and it was staff and administrators and students all working together.
What types of rituals were reenacted? There is a ritual where chiefs or clerics walk around a sacrificial bull three times while saying prayers. One of the sad parts of the festival is that we used a paper-mache bull to reenact this ritual, and the bull has gone missing in the days after the festival. Another ritual is a ritual of taking a big basin of rice and picking the stones out of the rice while singing special songs. It is kind of like symbolically removing the negative forces from society. That was another special ritual we did. And then one of the ways that they form the festival is that they dance to music in a public square, so we did that for like two hours on Saturday afternoon. The drummers invite people out to dance. The music is praising the parents and grandparents of the dancers. While they dance, their friends and family put money on them, and the money is a sign of respect for their family tree. At the end of the day, the drummers split the money as payment for their services. We did the 9 whole thing completely, reenacting the way it happens in Africa.
Spring Festival Stephanie Li
he Empire Garden dim sum restaurant in Boston was packed for the January Chinese Spring Festival. Dangling from the ceiling were red lanterns with the Chinese characters of “Spring Festival” and “Good Fortune” on them. Laughter and chatter filled the spacious dining room. Waiters and waitresses, pushing meal carts, made their way around the packed tables, stopping frequently to hand out deep-fried crescent dumplings, egg custard, curried squid, rice noodle rolls and other dim sum delicacies. At the front of the room lied the stage where my dance troupe and I waited anxiously to begin our dance that we had worked so on hard to perfect. The smell of dumplings made my stomach rumble as I stood by the side of the stage, swirling my shimmery blue dress. To celebrate the New Year, my traditional Chinese dance troupe was to perform a peacock dance that is characteristic of the Dai minority tribe in China. The dress that I wore had peacock feather designs woven into it, which, whenever I spun in it, revealed layer after layer of material,
and a headdress with a long peacock feather sat on top of my head. After a few more minutes, my dance teacher got up on stage to announce the start of our dance. Silence settled over the spectators. My dance team and I quietly got into position on stage and waited for the music to start. The shrill sound of a Chinese lute greeted my ears. We slowly unfurled out from our starting positions and began the dance, sharply twisting and bending our bodies, arms and hands into the graceful form of the peacock. At the climax of the song, I grabbed one edge of my dress and extended my other arm toward the ceiling. My thumb and index finger touched while my other three fingers extended outward to form a peacock head. I began to spin, faster and faster, as my dress separated into multiple layers. Soon, the dance ended, with our peacock hands nodding in the air. Part of the joy of traditional Chinese dance is being able to share Chinese stories and culture,
especially during holidays like the Chinese Spring Festival. The types of Chinese dance are endless: elegant peacock dances, ribbon dances, fan dances, 1000-arm dances and powerful Mongolian dances characterized by leaps, cartwheels and other acrobatic stunts. Placing myself into various characters and mindsets helps me to understand the message of the dance so that I can truly connect and communicate with the audience. Whether it is depicting the dynamic scene within Chinese imperial palaces or playfully dancing with water jugs to represent po shui jie– the water pouring festival celebrated by the Dai tribe in southwestern China– I feel as though I’m suddenly transported to a different time, a different page in history. A hallmark of Chinese dance is the costumes and props. Bright, colorful and festive, Chinese dance costumes involve all types of dresses, special shoes that depend on the ethnic dance and even elaborate headdresses, all to emulate the Chinese dances and stories of the past. This doesn’t even cover the
wide variety of props; ribbons, fans, handkerchiefs, swords, long sleeves, candles, traditional Chinese instruments, nets, flowers and other objects all help to create an experience that showcases the beauty and tales of Chinese culture. Chinese dance helped introduced me to Chinese culture. Every week I would train with my dance troupe, learning different styles and how to use props elegantly. After weeks of intense practices, we would then showcase this form of Chinese art at cultural centers and restaurants to celebrate the holidays. I would always get nervous on the big night of the show– what happens if I mess up? What happens if something goes wrong? But as I walk onto the stage in my beautiful costume, I smile and immerse myself in the dance and story that I’m trying to convey. It is then that I truly feel connected to my heritage and the past.
Photo by Samuel Lipoff
Ambling through Central Park on a beautiful day this summer, I heard an unfamiliar kind of music and found myself lured towards it. A variety of drums, xylophones and unidentifiable wind instruments cast a symphony of rhythmic tones through the breeze.Â As I approached the scene of the sounds, I discovered a diverse crowd of audience members as well as participants in the show: old couples, young men and women, mothers with children on their shoulders. Some were watching, and some were dancing. All were captivated by the musicians and dancers before them. The unusual thing about this event was that it was not simply a show seeking monetary donations â€” although the performers certainly did earn some â€” but rather a festival of music and movement that invited all to participate in the magic.
Gion Matsuri, Kyoto Licole Paroly Long, oblong white with airy center, green-patterned with birds and flowers, a blossoming sleeve, caught on a cold, un-living pole holding up a palanquin – do they still make those, even here? Caught between flesh arm and metal, vines separate from white cotton and ri… …ip quickly and loudly. In a celebration of the most precious, the most precious is destroyed. The city is in full bloom, and the streets are filled with music and wooden flipflops. Parades wind oh-so-slowly over concrete and end to flood outwards into the wide basin of Kyoto streets. Left for dinner, right for drinks. Celebrate, ring-bells, wring-hands, toast, raise sake and beer and plum wine in your glass, eat wagashi and wear fresh-pressed silk kimonos. The day, the night, the cityI am yours.
Singapore Day Wilson Tang
hy are there so many Singaporean events in New England every month? You guys form some kind of enclave here!
My classmates will always be utterly amused whenever I tell them about my weekends – I have attended so many Singaporean events in the past 3 months that there seems to be endless facts and details about Singapore that I can share. This is testament to the size of the Singaporean population in just New England. The number of Singaporeans in the United States has surpassed 5000 in the recent decade. Many Singaporeans have explored beyond the constraints of the small, developed country to work, study or live. This large proportion of Singaporean overseas forms a wide diaspora network, with which the Singapore government would like to connect. In 2006, Singapore Day was launched with the aim of bringing Singapore culture to the many regions in which Singaporeans have found new residence. As an annual event, the cultural festival is organized in one of the four countries – the United States, United Kingdom, China and Australia – which contain the highest density of Overseas Singaporeans, sometimes referred to as OS. The 2012 iteration was held on 14 April 2012, at Prospect Park, New York City. To say that Singaporean culture is multi-faceted and highly diverse is sometimes insufficient to illustrate the widely abundant choices of food, cultural activity and entertainment options that Singapore can offer. Singapore Day does a succinct job of the
difficult task of fitting the best of Singapore into a one day festival. By combining samples of food, illustrative Singapore backdrops, local comedians, and even the armed forces, Singaporeans in the United States were transported back home, as they stepped through the ‘gates’ of Singapore’s highly efficient subway into a transformed Prospect Park that looked nothing like Brooklyn. The whole park was transformed into a Disneyland-style theme festival. There was a beeline for Singapore’s best Teh Tarik, a traditional milk tea drink in which the tea is poured from one cup to another to ‘pull’ the tea, thus giving the drink its name. The festival also offered fish ball noodles, fried carrot cake (A pseudo-pancake dish which the flour is fried with eggs) and prawn noodles. To recreate the flavors of Singaporean Food in New York, the very hawkers and chefs who specialize in making these favorites were flown in from Singapore. The special ingredients which were used in some of the dishes, such as the fish balls and tea powder, were also specially transported from Singapore to New York to ensure the dishes’ authenticity. Singaporean food is rather accessible in major cities in the United States, including Boston, New York and San Francisco, but the level of authenticity at Singapore Day is unparalleled. There must be a reason why Singaporeans are willing to wait for more than an hour for a small portion of their local delicacies. Food aside, the stage was also centered on a pair of Singaporean comedians, Michelle Cheong and
En Lai Chua, who gained fame in a five season satire-comedy TV series, The Noose. The program was nominated for the International Emmys in 2011, and has gained popularity among local viewers ever since. The two hosts gave Singaporeans a nice reminder on what it means to speak Singaporean English, or in short, Singlish, with their colloquial and highly entertaining performances. The afternoon continued with a live rendition of “We Are Singaporeans,” a game show that focuses on Singaporean history, culture and current affairs.
“To recreate the flavors of Singaporean Food in New York, the very hawkers and chefs who specialize in making these favorites were flown in from Singapore.” Many Singaporeans living in the United States have not returned to Singapore for months, if not years. Singapore Day was a great opportunity for Singaporeans to catch a glimpse of the latest modern developments in the city, with structures such as the new Marina Bay Sands, a casino and entertainment complex owned by the Las Vegas Sands Cooperation, Pinnacle at Duxton, a public housing development, and Universal Studios Singapore, which is set as photo backdrops in mini photo booths. The majestic design of the new Sands
building inspired awe among many, and many expressed their excitement over the latest Universal Studios that is so close to home. In addition there was the military. Singaporean males who have reached eighteen years of age (or sixteen and a half for those who chose not to continue with further education) must serve two years of national service in the Singapore Armed Forces. Soldiers who have finished their full-time service are required to take a physical fitness test annually, and the latest testing equipment was on display to serve as a good reminder of the need for Singaporean males to remain in shape. The one-day Singaporean festival concluded with a mass dancing event, the Mambo Jambo. In the early 80s, a dancing sensation was created by a local night club, Zouk, which invented a weekly segment for party-goers to participate in synchronized dancing instead of relying on their own dance moves. The sensation continues to this day, and Zouk holds Mambo events to the music of Bananarama’s “I Heard A Rumour”, and Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” popularized by the “rickrolling” meme every festive season. Initially organized as a gateway for Overseas Singaporeans, Singapore Day has transformed into a multi-million dollar festival. Every year, Singaporeans at different parts of the world will get a taste of home, away from home, and with everyone from home.
Photos courtesy of the Overseas Singaporean Unit
Carnival in Cusco Elizabeth Berrang
was very fortunate that the two months I spent in Cusco, Peru last year overlapped with Carnival season. These festivities, traditionally celebrated in heavily Catholic areas, take place throughout February immediately before Lent. In the weeks leading up to the Carnival parade, the cobblestone streets of Cusco were taken over by juegos de agua, a tradition in which locals throw water balloons and spray foam at one another. It was nearly impossible to leave my apartment without being bombarded with water and foam. Balloons were launched from balconies, behind doors and out of car windows. And with my gringa (the local’s term for a white foreigner) feature– curly, blond hair and blue eyes– I seemed to be the ultimate target. Even my rain jacket and umbrella were not sufficient enough to protect me from the relentless street soakings. The playful badgering escalated until it was finally the morning of parade festivities. My friend and I tried to make our way through the city to the Plaza de Armas, the beautiful central square where the celebrations were taking place all day long. We walked cautiously through the battlefield of water guns and spray foam canisters, dodging streams of silly string and shaving cream and ducking into doorways for cover. Our efforts were in vain; we were
soaked and covered in foam in less than two minutes into our trek. We decided to adopt a new strategy: retaliation. We each bought two foam spray cans from a street vendor and, armed and ready, made our way to the central square, defending ourselves against the instigators. When we finally arrived, we discovered that the parade was worth our struggles. The procession began with dancers twirling and gliding through the streets– girls with ribbons woven through their long dark braids, boys adorned with traditional hats and belts and couples performing authentic Latin dance steps. Live musicians playing traditional handmade instruments accompanied them. The lively, upbeat music reverberated from the strings and filled the plaza. Next came women in traditional clothing carrying baby goats and other livestock. Their vibrant red and yellow skirts stood out against the monotonous grey cobblestones and cathedrals surrounding the square. Hand-painted floats decorated with balloons and ribbons then followed them. The crowded streets rang out with squeals from children, chants from parade-goers and cheers from onlookers. We ended the afternoon wet and covered in foam, with authentic Latin music ringing in our ears and smiles on our faces.
Matsuri Julia McDaniel
rasshaimase! Come, grab a drink! Delicious home-made niku-man! Come have a look! The calls of eager vendors whose voices jousted for the attention of passersby are the soundtrack of my summers spent in Japan. Ushiku, my hometown one hour from Tokyo, is generally a quiet, not-so-exciting place. Tiny farms produce soybeans, rice, peanuts, corn and tons of other vegetables, and the narrow roads wind through solemn bamboo forests. Other than the occasional family quarrel that piques the attention of all the neighbors, nothing too flashy ever seems to happen. But each July, for two short, sweet days, this community transforms into a fantastic, raucous hub of music and excitement for the matsuri festival. Months before the event, banners and lanterns start springing up on lampposts and buildings all over town, and school-
children learn the “Kappa-ondo”− a festival dance named after the mythical “kappa” watercreature that lives in the town marsh. As the much-anticipated week gets closer, local businesses start shining their trusty cotton-candy makers and search for last year’s leftover paper plates. Special sales and promotion ads smatter the local paper, and streets are readied for jampacked stalls. Only when the final streamer is put into place does the matsuri finally begin. From the brightly-lit stalls with strings of red-and-white lanterns shine the faces of enthusiastic vendors who offer festivalgoers a delectable array of prime summer foods. Nothing says “Japanese festival” like a steaming pork bun as big as your head, crispy fried squid, cucumbers on a stick, baked potatoes swimming in melted butter, roasted ears of corn and an enormous variety of other treats. For the insatiable sweet tooth, shaved ice with sticky syrup, cotton candy and bananas dipped in chocolate and sprinkles are some of the more popular choices. Aside from the food, (though the food is by far the best part, of course) other wonders line the packed streets. In a game called “Goldfish
Scoop,” hundreds of goldfish swim temptingly in large inflatable kiddie pools to be chased around by eager children with small paper nets. Catching a wriggling fish with a paper scooper is no easy task, but patience and a steady hand can snag a child a snazzy new pet. Other games include beanbag tosses, fishing for balloons and shooting games, none of which I have ever won. Masks that resemble traditional Japanese devils and cartoon characters, posters of J-pop stars, plastic swords, sweet cold pop drinks called ramune and light-up toys serve to please every child’s (or inner child’s) wants and needs. All the while, a line-up of local bands and performers take their places on the central stage, adding to the chaotic and wonderful magic of these hot summer nights. The possibilities may seem endless, but the gravity of having several weeks of allowances in one’s wallet can make every purchase seem like a weighty decision. As a kid, I squeezed through the crowds in my colorful yukata (a light, kimono-like garb) with my brother and drank in the sights and smells, but I always started off every evening reluctant to spend money on anything but the best choices. After devouring three ears of corn and a pork bun and failing miserably to catch even a single goldfish, I headed home satisfied, a soda bottle dangling from one sweaty hand and an empty coin purse swinging from the other. Once home, the now crumpled and sticky yukata could be strewn across the floor, and I would fall asleep with a full heart and music still ringing in my ears. So, if you ever find yourself in Ushiku on a mid-summer night, keep your eyes out for a joyous crowd of thousands of people dancing their way up and down the street and celebrating the delights of childhood and carefree summers. Photo by Misako Ono
Pi Mai Lao Julia Russell
i Mai Lao was the biggest party I’d ever attended. Shops shut down and the entire city of Luang Prabang, Laos, crowded the streets for a celebration that lasted three straight days, with strangers dousing each other in water and yelling, “Sok dee pi mai!” (good luck for the new year). The festival coincided with others in Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia, all observing the new year. The first day of the festival is considered the last day of the year, the second day is a “nothing” day in between the two years, and the third day is the first of the new year. Houses are cleaned and Buddha images are washed as the population cleanses itself of bad luck from the past year, and prepares to enter the new one fresh. One morning, I visited the “market fair” with some friends; the vendor tents stretched for miles, and thousands of people had come to do some shopping. There was the usual
junk available at Western carnivals—stuffed animals, balloon kits, pinwheels—as well as piles of clothes, toy guns, appliances. It’s impossible, however, to examine the goods, because the waves of people keep pushing along. We were packed like sardines along the narrow road, and by 11 AM the heat had become unbearable. I was ready to take part in the most exuberant part of the celebration: the giant water fight. Nobody comes away from Pi Mai Lao without being doused in water at least once; that is, unless you don’t leave your house for a week. Everyone lines the streets, blares music from giant speakers, and waits for approaching traffic. Pickup trucks roll slowly through town with a number of people dancing in the back, scooping water from trash barrels and throwing it onto the crowd, who fights back with their own buckets of water. Everyone
away from Pi Mai Lao without being doused in water at least once”
joins in, though with different methods; while the elderly population tends to pour water gently down the backs of pedestrians, teenagers construct water bombs and launch them into passing vehicles.
“It was all in good fun; the only casualty was my drowned wallet.” Deciding to observe cultural traditions as well as the party, I watched the parade of the Phra Bang Buddha from the National Museum to Wat Mai, a nearby temple. The Buddha image is the most revered in the country, as it is a symbol of the spread of Theravada Buddhism is Laos. Leading the parade were two red characters named Pou Gneu and Gna Gneu, from whose costumes people grabbed strings of hair and tied them around one another’s wrists for good luck. The procession included the city’s population of Buddhist novices and monks. While they were also
cleansed, an air of respect was present as people deferentially showered the religious figures with water full of flower petals. Another highlight of the parade was the giant float, on which the winner of the annual beauty pageant sat in a full traditional costume. It was fascinating to watch the way such a conservative culture transformed for a few days. The normally timid teenage female population donned shorts and t-shirts. Deafening dance music disrupted the peaceful atmosphere of the ancient city. Children cheekily mixed colored dyes into their water supplies and stained unsuspecting foreigners. It was all in good fun; the only casualty was my drowned wallet. On the other hand, the cultural rituals have not been sacrificed by any means in the name of a wild celebration. Every person participates in some sort of tradition, whether by taking part in a baci ceremony at home to welcome the new year, or giving alms to the monks to accrue merit. The Pi Mai Lao festival was a colorful, exhilarating mix of ancient customs and modern parties, and at the end of a long three days, everyone feels refreshed and ready to begin anew. 21
Jodi Bosin Birds flock around visitors to the Amber Fort in Rajasthan, India.
Alexander Azan Tufts student Akua Abrah performing “All of the Lights” by Kanye West during the 2011 China Care Lux Fashion Show.
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