Mouth Watering Ismaili Owned Restaurants in Vancouver with an East African Touch

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Editor/Publisher Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos

Established as the news, lifestyle, and entertainment weekly in Vancouver for 50 years, the weekly Georgia Straight is an integral part of the active urban West Coast lifestyle with over 816,000 unduplicated readers/visitors print and website per week.

Recently, the paper published an overview of four Ismaili owned restaurants known for their distinct East African based Indian cuisines. The restaurants highlighted in the paper with corresponding website links are Ember Indian Kitchen, Jambo Grill, Simba’s Grill and Cayenne Bistro.

Missing in the Straight report are two restaurants that the editor of Simerg frequents whenever he visits Vancouver. These are the award winning Safari Snack House on Canada Way located near the Burnaby Lake Jamatkhana, known for its delicious black kebabs, and James Street Café & Grill, also on Canada Way, but closer to the Ismaili Centre Vancouver. Straight’s review can be read by clicking HERE or on the following image.

Please click on image for Straight.com article on Ismaili owned restaurants in Vancouver

We take this opportunity to invite owners of Ismaili restaurants in Canada and the USA specializing in South Asian, East African and Central Asian cuisine to write to us with a comprehensive 100-200 word overview of their restaurant, a picture of the restaurant as well as a photo of their most popular dish, along with a link to their website. Simerg will be most happy to provide a listing of their established eatery in a future piece. The description submitted should be accurate and complete, as any material that needs an extended amount of editorial changes will not be accepted for publication. Please write in confidence to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com.

Date posted: October 22, 2020.

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We invite our readers from around the world to submit feedback on their favourite Ismaili owned restaurants — in any part of the world! Please complete the submission form below or click on Leave a comment.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.

Aga Khan Park

Let Storms Beware

Karim H. Karim’s beautiful poem is followed by a brief note from the editor as well as some pictures that he set off to take at Toronto’s Aga Khan Park, shortly after he had been inspired by the poem.

 By KARIM H. KARIM

(Dedicated to all who are sad)

Sweetest are the songs
That we sing in sorrows;
Tears swell in our eyes
Even when joy overflows.

Naïve folk fear the thorns
Where flowers do flourish,
Fresh with hues of hope.

Dawn’s light is nearest
When sadness is darkest,
Sings the black night
In stars’ silent twinkle.

Embrace the aching pain,
Learn to laugh a little
And to comfort others.

Let storms beware
That we are lighting
The lamps of love.

Date posted: October 20, 2020.
Last updated: October 22, 2020.

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(Based on Shankardas Shailendra’s (1923-1966) “Hain Sabse Madhur Wo Geet,” which evokes Percy Shelley’s (1792-1822) line “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of the saddest thought.”)

Karim H. Karim Carleton University
Karim H. Karim

About the author: Karim H. Karim is the Director of the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam and a Professor at Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication.

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Editor’s note: I was truly feeling sad earlier today (October 20), thinking about my daughter and my mother whom I haven’t visited for several months due to Covid-19. I was lonely, and also worried about my health in these uncertain times! My friend Karim H. Karim who is nearly 450 kms from me must have sensed that. I was waiting for another article from him altogether, not a piece dedicated for those who are sad. In my reply to his humble submission, I told him I would review it in a few days time! However, I decided to read it straight away, and his piece truly cheered me up. And in that moment of becoming a lot less sad, I gained some energy and headed to my favourite place! Yes, the Aga Khan Park, with two incredible buildings, the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum around it — gracious gifts from Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

Admittedly, I haven’t been to the Park for a number of weeks, passing by it only in my car. The photographs that I took during my visit to the Park, represent my joyous moments, that I owe to Karim’s beautiful rendition. As I walked to the park, I was reminded of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s quote where he says that if one has faith, one may be worried, one may at times feel sad but one will never be unhappy. How true! Enjoy the photos, which were inspired by the poem.

Note: The following photos — and more — can be viewed in larger format at Simerg’s special photo blog. Please click Bidding Farewell to Vibrant Autumn Colours at Aga Khan Park. If you haven’t visited the blog please click Simergphotos for an outstanding collection of photo essays!

The Flag of the Ismaili Imamat
The flag of the Ismaili Imamat by maple trees at the peak of autumn colours. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
A close up of autumn colours on a maple tree at the Aga Khan Park. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Museum and Aga Khan Park
The Aga Khan Museum building as seen from the edge of the Aga Khan Park at the Wynford Drive bridge over the Don Valley Parkway. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Big Heech Aga Khan Museum
The famous Big Heech sculpture by the north end of the Aga Khan Museum, with maple trees in the background exhibiting their fall colours. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park
A gorgeous view of the dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana, with rich autumn colours at the Aga Khan Park adding to the beauty of entire area. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park Autumn Foliage Malik Merchant
Beautiful trees with rich autumn colours at the Aga Khan Park. To the left and not shown is the dome of the Ismaili Centre. See previous photo. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg
Ismaili Jamatkhana Dome and Aga Khan Park
A close up of the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome with a maple tree rich in autumn colours in the foreground. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Evergreen Brick Works
A view of CN Tower from the Evergreen Brick Works located in the Don River Valley on 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, a 10 minute drive from the Aga Khan Park. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Red maples Aga Khan Park
A beautiful view of red maple trees lined up at the edge of the Aga Khan Park along Wynford Drive, from the Aga Khan Museum (near end) to the Ismaili Centre. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg
Red Maples Aga Khan Park
Red maples reach the peak of their fall colours at the Aga Khan Park, with a view of the Ismaili Jamatkhana dome at left. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park, Flags of Canada and the Ismaili Imamat
From left to right, flags of the Ismaili Imamat, the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and Canada, with its famous Maple Leaf. Photo: © Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Date posted: October 20, 2020.
Last updated: October 21, 2020 (new link).

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or, if you don’t see the box, please click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.

Short Videos: Ismailis Keep Unique Culture Alive on Roof of the World; and 2 Canadians Bike Through Wilderness of the Pamirs

In the 11th century, Nasir Khushraw came to the Pamirs, and brought the Shiite Ismaili branch of Islam to the region. Today, two religious traditions 2000-3000 years apart, continue to co-exist in a remote corner of the earth. Watch the short cultural video in RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty by clicking HERE or on image below. Next, watch a video of two Canadians, Christian Meier and Peter Gaskill, taking on the remote Pamir landscape on their bicycles.

Video: Ismailis Keep Unique Culture Alive

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Video: Canadians Christian Meier and Peter Gaskill Ride Through the Pamirs

Suggestion: Watch Tajikistan video in full screen mode.

Date posted: October 18, 2020.

Featured photo at top of post: Narrow and winding roads from Khorough to Raushan in the Pamirs. Photo: © Muslim Harji. Please also see Harji’s photo essay Landscapes of Tajikistan.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.

2020 Autumn Foliage is Here! Amidst Covid-19, Awaken Your Senses With Day Trip to Beautiful Algonquin Park

DISTANCES: Algonquin Park from Toronto, 276 km; from Ottawa, 245 km.

Its been a tough summer for everyone. While we are still partially locked down due to Covid-19, do something safe and extraordinary this autumn by yourself, with your partner or your family with children who have a day off due to rotating classes. Yes, escape to Ontario’s Algonquin Park for a day, and let the magic of autumn foliage bring happiness to your hearts and soothe your eyes. Pick a weekday to visit the Park and drive through its 56 km Highway 60 corridor from the West to the East Entrances (or vice versa). The Park is only 2.5 to 3 hour drive from Ottawa or Toronto.

Aga Khan Park foliage
A tree by a pond at the Aga Khan Park on Wynford Drive in Toronto exhibiting its fall colours on September 24, 2020. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park Fall Colours waxing moon Wynford Drive Toronto
Trees at Aga Khan Park exhibiting fall colours on the night of September 24, 2020 under a waxing moon seen in the sky above the dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana on Wynford Drive in Toronto. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Fall colours are already visible at various locations in Toronto and Ottawa (see two photos, above). So what is it like in Algonquin Park, as of this final week in September of the Covid-19 year? According to the official website of The Friends of Algonquin Park, “Sugar and Red Maples are off to a quick start with their fall colour change in Algonquin Park as a result of shortening daylight length, recent frost, and below freezing conditions….the maple canopy (tops) and forest edges are showing the best fall colour in Algonquin Park.”

The colours are expected to brighten in the coming days, and the 2020 foliage promises to be as fabulous as it was when Nurin and Malik Merchant spent a full day in October 2019 at the Park! Click on the link to see their report, photos and guide of how you can spend a beautiful day at the Park in 2020. And what about the impact of Covid-19? The guide has links to that information, and they tell you what is closed in 2020, based on their fabulous visit a year ago! Really, other than the Algonquin Art Centre every other place along the 56 kms corridor they drove through is OPEN, but do pick up a weekday as Nurin and Malik did!

Click HERE or on Photo for Day Trip Suggestion to Algonquin Park

2020 Algonquin Park Foliage Simerg

Date posted: September 25, 2020 (photos of foliage at Aga Khan Park on Wynford Drive in Toronto added).

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Pir Shams Mausoleum

Exclusive Photo Essay @Simergphotos: The Mausoleum of Pir Shams

A few years ago, Malik Mirza contributed a great piece on the mausoleums of Pir Sadardin and his son Pir Hasan Kabirdin, who are among the architects of Ismaili Dawa in the Indian sub-continent through the wonderful tradition and teachings of Ginans. Mirza’s wish to visit the mausoleum of Pir Shams, father of Pir Sadardin, was fulfilled recently, and he has contributed a fantastic and informative photo essay on the mausoleum. Click on EXCLUSIVE PHOTO ESSAY: THE MAUSOLEUM OF PIR SHAMS or image below to read the essay.

Depictions of Pir Shams at his mausoleum in Multan ,Pakistan
Depictions of Pir Shams in posters and cards sold at his mausoleum in Multan. Pakistan.

Date posted: August 29, 2020.

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Crescent Moon at Aga Khan Park and the Ismaili Centre

Malik Merchant, having spent a whole night on July 4-5, 2020, at Aga Khan Park taking photos of the Full Moon, alas, did not have the same opportunity with the New Moon a few days ago. It rose during daytime, and set soon after dusk, and its visibility was extremely low. So 3 days later, he spent a few hours at the Ismaili Centre photographing the Crescent Moon that had reached an illumination of around 12%. Please click HERE or on image below for story and plenty of photos!

Crescent moon over the front main entrance of the Ismaili Centre Toronto. Please click for story and photos.

Date posted: July 26, 2020.

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Recollecting a beautiful Canada Day moment in Winnipeg, and the Aga Khan’s message of 1978 that inspired thousands to make Canada their permanent home

By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/editor SimergSimergphotos  and Barakah (2017)

July 1, 2017 was 150th anniversary of Canada’s founding. I had planned to be in Ottawa for the greatest Canada Day celebration in the country. However, my 45000 km road trip that began in Vancouver was delayed, and I arrived in Winnipeg on June 30th after having driven 2600 kms (including the detours I had taken to see sites in Alberta and Saskatchewan)! Ottawa was a further 2200 kms away, and the forecast there called for rainy weather.

Winnipeg was basking in sunshine when I woke up! At the hotel, I had learned about Winnipeg’s 11 year old tradition of forming a living Canadian flag in various parts of the city. For the 150th anniversary, the largest living Maple Leaf formation was going to be at the city’s downtown intersection at Portage Avenue and Main Street.

Canada Day Living Maple Leaf in Winnipeg Simerg
Canada’s Largest Living Maple Leaf formed with the participation of thousands of individuals in Winnipeg on July 1, 2017, to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday. Photo: Downtown Winnipeg Biz.

2,500 red T-shirts were handed out at 8:30 AM, and Canadians of all backgrounds were asked to position themselves in the square. Nigerian born Ismaila Alfa, host of Up To Speed on CBC Radio One in Winnipeg, led the sea of reds through a couple of practice sessions to get everything right. Then, he asked the crowd to look up at the camera hosted in a high rise office tower for two photos — the first with a smile and the second one with the cheerful singing of “Canada” . This was a truly memorable moment for me as I have never witnessed anything like this before, and have only attended Canada Day Celebrations in Ottawa! I share the photographs from that happy day 3 years later, while we are all stuck at home watching the 153rd Canada Day virtually due to Covid-19.

Canada Day Living Maple Leaf in Winnipeg Simerg
Canada’s Largest Living Maple Leaf formed with the participation of thousands of individuals in Winnipeg on July 1, 2017, to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday. Photo: Downtown Winnipeg Biz.

As an Ismaili Muslim, my first impressions of Canada were formed in November 1978 when I travelled to Toronto from the UK for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s, His Highness the Aga Khan, first ever visit to his newly settled Ismaili followers. When he repeatedly called on the Ismailis in Canada to “Make Canada your home” I reflected on that message and decided to make Canada my home some 2 years later.

This unique and historical photo signed by the late Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, was taken in the Prime Minister’s Office during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee visit to Canada in April 1983. (l to r) – Hon. Secretary Farouk Verjee (Aga Khan Council for Canada), Mr. Gerry Wilkinson (His Highness the Aga Khan’s Secretariat, Aiglemont, France), Hon. Secretary Mohamed Manji (Aga Khan Ontario Council), President Amirali Rhemtulla (Aga Khan Grants Council), Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Prince Amyn Muhammad Aga Khan, President Mehboob Dhanani (Aga Khan Ontario Council) and President Zulficar Lalji (Aga Khan Council for Canada). The full signature line note from the Prime Minister read: To Farouk with the best of Memories. Trudeau. 1983. Photo: Farouk Verjee Collection, Vancouver.

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s profound affinity and respect for Canada has been explained in a very thoughtful piece by Mohib Ebrahim. I urge everyone to read it. I take a number of quotations from Mohib’s article which reflect the Imam’s confidence in Canada as a force of good:

“Canada [is] an international power who takes her responsibilities seriously and whose policies have never in her history been tainted by the cruder forms of colonialism, racialism or isolationism.” — Diplomatic Banquet, Toronto, November 1978.

“Successful experience with democracy, civil society and pluralism are the national genius of Canada of which much of the developing world is in dire need.” — Ottawa, June 2005

“[A]s you continue your search for the best constitutional solution to your future, … let me emphasise that Canada remains for the rest of the world an enviable haven. A haven of peace, and of immense natural beauty and wealth. The wealth I speak of, is not merely its natural resources but the peoples of Canada, steeped in your tradition of tolerance, generosity and compassion in alleviating human suffering and respect for diversity of thought and culture.” — Diplomatic Corps Banquet Toronto, August 1992.

On this 153rd anniversary marking the birth of Canada, my 89 year old beautiful mother Maleksultan and my lovely daughter Nurin join me in wishing all Canadians and everyone living in this great country a very Happy Canada Day.

Ismaili Muslim is appointed as the new Lieutenant Governor of Alberta

We are particularly proud and joyous that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday, June 30, the appointment of Salma Lakhani, a proud Ismaili Muslim, as the new Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. Ms. Lakhani will be the first Muslim Lieutenant Governor in Canadian history.

Salma Lakhani

A long time resident of Edmonton, Ms. Lakhani has dedicated her life to helping people in need and those who face obstacles to success in our society. Through her work to advance education, health care, women’s empowerment, human rights, and support for new immigrants, she continues to be a champion of diversity, pluralism, and inclusion.

Born in Uganda, her home country from which her family was expelled in 1972, Ms. Lakhani completed an honours degree in Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Manchester. She moved to Edmonton with her husband, Dr. Zaheer Lakhani, in 1977. The couple has two daughters. I recollect Dr. Zaheer as the Aga Khan Council Chairman for Edmonton during the early 1980’s. He mingled with everyone in the Jamat, and as a leader consulted with Jamati members regularly. He was always supported by his wife Salma during his term.

The Ismaili, the official website of the Ismaili community, has published a special article about her appointment.

We congratulate Ms. Lakhani and her family on her appointment, and wish her happiness and success in the role she will play for all Albertans.

As we all celebrate Canada Day, we sincerely hope that this great nation of 37.6 millions people will come out even stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic that we are living through today with the rest of humanity.

Date posted: July 1, 2020.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.

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We welcome feedback/letters from our readers. Please use the feedback box which appears below. If you don’t see the box please click Leave a comment. Your comment may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. We are unable to acknowledge unpublished letters.

Malik with his mother Maleksultan
Merchant at the Vancouver Ismaili
Centre.

Malik Merchant is the editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and the publication his websites. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in professional and honorary capacities. His daughter, Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian based in Ottawa. Malik may be contacted at Simerg@aol.com.

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Jamila’s Kitchen & Grill: Metro Vancouver restaurant owned by Ismaili couple from Afghanistan has gratitude written all over it

Between Google and Yelp, Jamila’s Kitchen and Grill located on 2733 Barnet Hwy, in Coquitlam, one of the 21 municipalities comprising Metro Vancouver, has over 220 reviews with an average star rating of 4 (out of 5). Canadian media such as the national newspaper Globe and Mail, and greater Vancouver publishers Tricity News and CityNews1130 recently carried heartwarming stories about the restaurant and its owners, Malik Malikzada and his wife Jamila Malikzada. Please click on links that follow to read the articles. Please also see a brief description about the restaurant taken from its website.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Jamilas Kitchen

In 2000, the Malikzadas, with the help of Ismaili organization were accepted as refugees in Canada where they now run Jamila’s Kitchen and Grill in Coquitlam, B.C. The eclectic menu features South Asian dishes, which Ms. Malikzada learned to cook while living in Pakistan. Read more in the Globe and Mail

TRICITY NEWS

It was always Jamila’s dream to cook food in her own restaurant. Three years ago, she and her husband Malikzada took the plunge….they’re humbled to be able to give back to the community that’s taken them in by offering free food at their Coquitlam restaurant they’ve run for three years to those who can’t afford it. Read more in Tricitynews

CITY NEWS 1130

Whether they can pay or not, the owner of a restaurant in Coquitlam is offering hot meals to anyone who truly needs them. The owner of Jamila’s Kitchen and Grill says the offer is open to everyone, regardless of whether or not they can prove their circumstances. Read more in Citynews1130 (with video)

ABOUT JAMILA’S KITCHEN

Jamila’s Kitchen & Grill is a dream borne from the mind and heart of Jamila, a passionate chef of Afghan descent. Escaping Afghanistan as a family during civil war, she with her family relocated in Karachi, Pakistan and as chef worked in food industry and Aga Khan university hospital’s kitchen for many years and absorbing the culture through its language, art and cuisine.

Upon migrating to Canada Nov 2000, her immigrant experience confirmed to her that the importance of creating and combining ethnic food from Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan, Greek and indo-Chinese, she created Jamila’s Kitchen & Gill and merged with Pizza Island & Indian Spice as a hub for diverse cultures to feel always great.

The fusion approaches to food, contribute to creating a sense of universality while maintaining the quality that she has brought with her to this land. Appreciating the growing movement of lifestyles of health and sustainability, Jamila’s Kitchen & Grill merges with Pizza Island & Indian Spice and operating under one ceiling, and consciously integrates local and organic food into the menu; we love to serve our community.

Simerg wants to her from you…..

If you have eaten at Jamila’s Kitchen and Grill, please give your feedback by clicking on Leave a comment. We also welcome a comprehensive review of the restaurant in 500-600 words. If you wish to submit one, please write to Simerg@aol.com.

Date posted: February 28, 2020.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.

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2019 Fall Rhapsody: Autumn Colours in Ottawa/Gatineau are spectacular and best ever!

PLEASE CLICK: 2019 Fall Rhapsody: A Superabundance of Autumn Colours in Canada’s National Capital Region, Ottawa and Gatineau, that no City in the World can (Ever) Match

Gatineau Park, October 2019, Fall Rhaspody
Champlain Lookout, Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada, on October 18, 2019. Photo: Malik and Nurin Merchant. Please click on image for more photos and story.

Of course, the “best ever” is our labelling having lived in the city for a long time! If you live in Ottawa/Gatineau or are visiting the region, please drive to Gatineau Park or take the special free shuttle from downtown Ottawa. You shouldn’t miss this glorious show of nature at its most colourful! Weather forecast to Monday, October 21, 2019 — splendid!

Date posted: October 19, 2019.

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Photos: A Beautiful Autumn Day in Algonquin Park

Its beyond fall colours! This park has so much of the natural world to offer, and should be in everyone’s bucket list. My daughter and I had limited time and made the most effective use of the 15 hours we had which included around 6 hours of driving time from and back to Ottawa. With time management, and inspiration from youth anything is possible! If you are in Ontario and close to the Park, make it this week — even for a day!

ALGONQUIN PARK: Our Photos and Suggestions

Algonquin Park
Please click on image for photos.

Date posted: October 13, 2019.

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