No Regrets…

Today is my 40th birthday. It is said that 40 years is the midpoint in one’s life. It is a milestone and the beginning of a new phase in life. But, somehow I don’t feel old. All of my classmates are married and well settled in different parts of the world. But I have lost contact with almost all of them.

I think the reason is that I don’t fit into their group or profile. I am still a bachelor, still think that I am 27 years old and talk about subjects that are no longer in their radar. I think at least half of my brain had gone into a time freeze and is still at 27 years. Even my younger brother acts and feels more matured than me. Having a family and kids has that effect on people. Me… I still think and act as if I am just out of college.

It has been 13 years since I met with my accident. And, quite eventful 13 years it had been. I saw all my dreams and aspirations getting washed away by a giant tidal wave. Like any normal person, I too had dreams about my life. I too had ambitions. I wanted to go abroad, work there, study there, and visit a lot of places. I wanted to have a family, and have kids. I wanted to be a good husband and a great father.

If fate had not intervened in 1993, in all probability I would have worked in US and Europe, took my PhD in software engineering from MIT or Carnegie Mellon University, got married and probably would have had kids. I am absolutely sure that I would have been a good employee, a brilliant student, a loving husband-friend to my wife and a caring father to my kids. But none of that happened. God had other plans.

Before my accident, I used to study hard and work hard. At the same time I used to have a lot of fun. I really enjoyed life during my college days and while working. There never was a dull moment in those days.

Spinal cord injury robbed me of all the comforts and conveniences that I took for granted for 27 years—the ability to stand, walk, climb stairs, drive, ride, swim, feel—the list is endless. I can’t go shopping, sightseeing or for a movie. I can’t attend the marriages, birthdays, anniversaries and other functions of my relatives and friends. I can’t get a job and I can’t do most of my favorite activities.

It is difficult to adjust, when all the things that one has taken for granted for 27 years are lost in the blink of an eye. It is a very depressing for a person who used to be physically very active and who was a fitness freak to just sit on a wheelchair, watching helplessly the muscles going soft and body weight going up. It is agonizing for a car and bike lover to sit inside the house looking at other people whizzing around in the latest model cars and bikes. It is unbearable for a person who enjoyed good food and drinks to become a teetotaler and be on diet indefinitely. It is tough for a person who smoked about 40 cigarettes and drank about 20 cups of coffee a day to completely stop the intake of nicotine and caffeine. It is completely demoralizing for a person who was fiercely independent to be dependent on others even to sit up in bed.

Out of the 13 years after my accident, I had a regular job for the first 2 years. Then I stayed at home, venturing out only to go to the hospital. In our country, where places are designed for able bodied people, there is not much point in going out as it is not at all enjoyable and the end result is days of body pain due to the ‘handling’ that one has to endure to reach those inaccessible places.

Being paralyzed from chest down in not the end of things, being confined to the wheelchair does not make one useless. Having no sensation has its advantages (like lack of pain, capability to undergo major surgeries without anesthesia, etc.). The restrictions on alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and food are good for health. Inability to go out can be considered a blessing as it gives you a lot of time to work, read, write and dream. The trick to survive is not to think about what you have lost and concentrate on what is left and how to make the best use of it.

This day, my 40th birthday, I thank my family, especially my brother, for the abundant support and love they have given me. I am also very grateful to my friends who have helped me, was with me and who are still helping and encouraging me.

I don’t harbor any ill will towards my friends who left me when I needed them most. They had their lives to live. I wish them all the best in their lives.

I would be lying, if I said I don’t have any malice towards those people, who have cheated me, used me, manipulated me, hurt me, and most importantly took advantage of my disability. I am no saint and I cannot forgive them or forget what they have done. I sincerely hope that one day they will get the taste of their own medicine. But their numbers are too few and the incidents are far in between to lose my faith in the underlying goodness of humanity.

When I had a chance, I lived my life to its fullest, enjoying every moment. Even when I am down, I try to give life my best shot.

For a person with spinal cord injury, every day is a struggle—struggle for survival. It is not easy to live when 80% of your body is not at your command. I think, I have survived so far, and survived with honor.

I borrow the words of Terry Waite to conclude this post—no regrets, no self-pity and no-over sentimentality.

Thank you friends…


  1. Paresh Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 12:34 am

    Happy Birthday!! Haven’t read the post. Will comment on it if I’ve something worthwhile….. till then… Just a Salute to my Hero

  2. Paresh Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 12:44 am

    Read it… As always Brilliant. I learn so much from you… you’ve influenced my life like a true Guru would… Thanks

  3. LALITHA Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 1:40 am

    Pick a star, any star
    who needs candles when you have the sky
    And make a birthday wish.
    Wish for whatever you want,
    Whatever your heart desires.
    And know that whatever you wish for,
    I wish the same for you
    And wish for a way for it to come true.


  4. James Bright Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 1:42 am

    My dear Alexis,
    First of all, I am wishing you a happy birthday.
    I am very happy to know that you are still feeling like a 27 year old ..! Keep that spirit inside you. That is very positive.
    And when I read the rest of the things, I was really crying inside my mind. We may not get everything in life. If you ask anyone, they all may have something to worry about in their life.
    But you are a great person and certainly you have achieved a lot in your life. I am sure, nobody can underestimate your achievements.

    Please be aware that there are many people in this world who are loving you as a good friend and as an intellectual.

    So, my friend, you have every reason to celebrate today..every reason to be happy about..!


  5. Ullas Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 2:02 am

    A very Happy Birthday to you Alex.

    I tend to not think of “what ifs” since we can only control the “future”.

    So let not the “what ifs” bother you. God Bless.

  6. thanu Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 2:27 am

    Happy B’day.

    Have a wonderful day, I’ll bake cake today.

  7. venus Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 3:19 am

    Wish you a Happiest Birthday Alexis..!!
    your age is what your mind feels, not your body :)
    very good spirit.. keep it up!

  8. Sarah Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 4:02 am

    Happy birthday Alexis.. wishing you the best of the best..

  9. Kavitha Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 6:20 am

    Happy Birthday Alexis


  10. Geo Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 6:54 am

    I understand ….

    Happy birthday!!

  11. silverine Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 9:17 am

    A very Happy Birthday Alexis.

    I hope and pray today that when I am your age, I will also be able to write a post like this and that I too can look back at my life and feel satisfied that I used whatever time and resources was given to me by God to make the best of my life.

  12. Dhanush Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 9:36 am

    Happy Birthday Alexis. Those final words are really touching.

    Wishing you the very best to happen in life in the years ahead.

  13. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 10:07 am

    Paresh: Thank you Paresh for the wishes.

    LALITHA: Nice poem. And thank you for your wishes.

    James: Thank you for your wishes and kind words, dear friend.

    Ullas: Thank you Ullas. Questions like ‘what ifs’ and ‘why me’ does not bother me any more.

    thanu: Thank you Thanu. The cake sounds great.

    venus: Thank you venus. Still very young at heart :-) .

    Kavitha: Thank you Kavitha.

    Sarah: Thank you Sarah.

    Geo: Thanks buddy.

    silverine: Thank you very much. I am sure you will able to write a better post than this :-)

    Dhanush: Thank you Dhanush.

  14. rocksea Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 10:23 am

    cheers alexis :)

    wish you happiness on your birthday and all the days to come.

  15. pophabhi Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 10:26 am

    Santhosha Janmadinam Alexisinu!
    Santhosha Janmadinam Alexisinu!
    You will always be a light thats guiding a lot of us. You will always be a friend for all of us…And you are of the same age as most of us ;-) . You are a real source of inspiration. Three Cheers to you, dear Alexis!

  16. Ganja Turtle Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 10:41 am

    Today is also the birthday of a pretty friend’s friend also – so happy birthday, Alice & Alex!

    We all make choices, Alex…having known first hand someone who went through a similar experience, I am so glad that you made the other choice – to take life as it comes and be happy!

    There is this book by Viktor Frankl where he explains how, in the midst of the Holocaust, he thinks about the meaning of life…he finally concludes that there is no meaning by itself to life…it is us who give it meaning -”ask not the question about what the meaning of life is…for life is the question and you, you are the answer”…I am happy that you are able to give such a wonderful meaning to your life after all that you have been through.

    Keep the faith, Alex – Invictus!

    And have the happiest birthday in the world today!

    PS: And the tag is now prose…do try now!

  17. chekku Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 10:41 am

    Happy birthday alex chetta!..

    Just that a quote comes to my mind..

    Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away!!!

    Hope you have such wonderful moments!!!!

  18. thanu Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 10:47 am

    I didn’t mean to freak u out … sorry :(

  19. kajan Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 10:50 am


    Happy Birthday:-)

    Whenever I think about you (and that is often, ever since I chanced upon your blogsite a couple of months back, and I keep rereading many of your blogs), I think to myself… “If I had 1/4 of the courage and determination he possesses and has showed, I would be a success in life.”

  20. Jagu Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 11:11 am


    Happpy Birthday Alex!!
    Knowing you through your blog as trully been an inspiration. Wishing you all the very best in future.. :)

    Seems Thanu called up & freaked you…so I wont try that …

  21. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 11:36 am

    rocksea: Thanks Rocksea

    Abhi: Thanks Abhi. Said,

    Ganja Turtle: Thanks GT and my wishes to Alice. I have read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for meaning. Very touching and very meaningful. Yes, Invictus—“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Thanks buddy.

    You have changed the tag to prose! I have written the poem. Will post it tomorrow.

    chekku: Thanks Mathew.

    thanu: It was nice of you to call and wish me happy birthday. I got totally psyched. Hence the monosyllabic replies and abrupt end to the conversation. I didn’t even properly thank you for calling me and wishing me. My sincere apologies… Someday, we should do this properly :-)

    kajan: Thank you Kajan for your wishes.

    Jagu: Thanks buddy. Yes, Thanu’s call was a total surprise :-) .

  22. anu Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 12:36 pm

    you are simply superb my dear alexis.. im emailing this post to as many people as i can.. cos this post describes what u r.. il never be able to express the geatness in you …ur courage, sense of humor, compassion, broadmindedness,and positive regard to everything is spell binding..
    salam sir..!!
    and as i had said earlier you r the typical example of a person who follows terry waite’s words ..
    A Happy Birthday to You..!!
    :) )

  23. neermathalam Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

    Wish u many many happy returns of the day.
    I am the blessed….or else I would not have found you
    I dont know why your words wet my eyes,it is not due
    to pain,It is simply due to the bliss of watching a man I know
    charging against all the possible odds pitted against him
    with a brave heart and smiling face.Celebrate this day
    chetta…celebrate it….You are living your life Kingsize..!!!
    I never felt scarcity of words…your words touch me somewhere deep…be like this forever….

    You are the real Happy Light House of Cochin

  24. neermathalam Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

    I talked to u now….I cant believe it…
    I was so overwhelmed to talk to u…
    a mixed feeling of respect and love…

  25. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 3:11 pm

    anu: Thank you for the wishes anu.

    neermathalam: Thank you buddy. It was nice talking to you too.

  26. Mind Curry Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

    happy birthday alexis..
    about the post, i have total respect and admiration for your character! like you said no regrets, no self-pity and no-over sentimentality. delicate balance that.

  27. Unnikrishnan Nair Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 3:53 pm

    Alexis, Life begins at 40!!.. Happy B’day!!

  28. Jo Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 4:17 pm

    Such a great birthday post! You are a true fighter and I’ve never known any one with such courage yet in the circle of people I know.

    Happy Birthday!!!

  29. Ajith Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

    Happy b’day..I admire your courage to go on. Never knew ur backgroud. Have read some of your books

  30. chacko Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

    Dear Alexis

    U r a real role model for people who have some kind of disabilities :) … and am sure u r life will be an inspiration for lot of people, becasue even people who is not disabled cant think and write like u…..

    Am sure u will start to write an autobiography later sometime….. u r reflections itself is a nice autobiography…..

    Happy Birthday Alexis…. Many Many Returns of the Day :)
    ((( Hugs )))

  31. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 7:59 pm

    Mind Curry: Thanks bro for the wishes.

    Unni: Life begins at 40!!. That is a nice thought. Thanks for the wishes.

    Jo: Thanks Jo. Hope the recording went well.

    Ajith Thanks Ajith.

    chacko: Thank you for your wishes chackocha.

  32. Pradip Somasundaran Said,

    July 19, 2006 @ 11:33 pm

    Alexis, I am only 5 months away from the 40 mark and you reminded me well in time that I am still young! We grow old in body but if we are still young at heart we will never be old! You are an inspiration to everyone of us here. When the mind is calm and focussed we achieve the unattainable. We have overcome the most difficult phases of our lives more than once before. So whay can’t we do it ever and ever again? The very thoughts of our previous victories will give us the courage and strength to go further! We are here to share your happiness & sorrow in whatever way we can. Many Many Happy returns of the day! God be with you.

  33. Hari Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 5:54 am

    Hi Alexis,

    Hello from a fellow Cochinite. It’s inspiring to read how you have overcome challenges, to be the person you are. I simply loved your posts on bikes, being a Bulleter myself. Got my first one in January 1988, which can’t be long after you got yours.

    I recall seeing Muttuchira mentioned somewhere in your blog — I think I’ve seen the place during my many bike trips to MG University in the early 1990s. Roads were worse then, but the relative lack of traffic compensated for it.

    Here’s to life beyond 40, man — keep the flag flying!

  34. Archu Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 9:49 am

    Though totally late in the day to wish u….wat the heck!!!

    A Yappy Yappy Birthday Mate!!!!

    Guess its ur 28th B’day celebration then…….dont grow up….i havent at 30 n guess will remain 18 till i die…..anyways grown ups are sooooooooooo boring….

    As they say….in good ole smoker’s language….”Live life KINGSIZE mate” nothing brings a man down than his own spirits….so always keep them high!!!!

    Cheers to U n to ME for finding this amazing blog !!! n a special thanx to Jagu!!!

  35. Anveshi Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 10:03 am


    Just now I opened my mail and found this wonderful post. My Angel friend Anu forwarded this to me. (Thank you, Angel… for introducing Alexis!)

    no regrets,
    no self-pity
    no-over sentimentality…

    Alexis, Happy Birthday!

    PS: Sorry, I am one day late :) ). I will go through your blog liesurely and write to you later.

  36. Aashik Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 11:55 am

    Hi !

    I am late. But Happy Birthday .

    I have nothing to say , because you are someone who is much more mature and knowledgable . Except good wishes.

    You still think and write . Thats something many people cant do. They simply cant. But you can. And you are doing it. You are doing what you can right now, and doin it well Thats what living to the fullest means.. Dont you think so ?

    Someday when I am in your city , I would like to visit you . Is that possible ?

  37. nina Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

    May you be 27 yrs forever
    Even after I grow old to be 72..

  38. Neil Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

    Hi Alexis…arrived here via Jagu’s blog….What i like the most about what you have written is its honesty….Happy Birthday and ‘Go maire tú an céad! (which is Irish for may you live to be 100!’

  39. Reshmi Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

    Hi Alexis,

    Belated b’day wishes…:)
    Have a wonderful time ahead…N be the same wonderfully inspiring person you are (even though I know u only thru this blog)…

    May age not dampen ur spirit…Cheers..!!!


  40. Lalit Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 5:54 pm

    u have given a lot of hope and courage to people…. most people in ur shoes would have given in to life and just be wasted but u ahve shown how to fight against all odds and make the most of it…
    u r an inspiration…

    The trick to survive is not to think about what you have lost and concentrate on what is left and how to make the best use of it.

    Many happy returns of the day

  41. Kusum Rohra Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 6:47 pm

    I read this post in the afternoon, and after that I have been reading various posts, but I got to commenting only now as i wanted to write it with lots of thought.

    Firstly, wish a very happy birthday albeit belated wishes but straight from the heart.

    Secondly long back in school I read the beautiful poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling and it stayed with me forever. Everytime I read the lines:

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

    I wondered if filling a minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance was possible. Now I know it is possible.

  42. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

    Pradip: According to Unni, life begins at 40! So you have not even born yet :-) Thanks for the wishes and may God bless you too.

    Hari: I bought my Bullet in 1987. You are right; you can see Muttuchira on your way to Kottaym. It is the next junction after Kaduthuruthy. And thank you for the wishes.

    Archu: Thank you for the wishes. Yes, let us live the life King Size…

    Anveshi: Thank you buddy.

    Aashik: Thanks Aashik. I completely agree with you. You are always welcome to visit me. Just give me a call when you are in Cochin.

    nina: Thanks Nina.

    Neil: Thank you Neil. The only Irish word I know is Guinesses, which I picked from the Jack Higgins novels :-)

    Reshmi: Thanks Reshmi.

    Lalit: Thank you Lalit.

    Kusum: Thank you for your wishes. Nice poem. Very meaningful isn’t it.

  43. p Said,

    July 20, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    Hi Alex,

    I was blog hoping and came by your blog. Wish you a very very happy birthday!! Hope you have a wonderful day and an even better year ahead! :)

  44. Jithu Said,

    July 21, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

    Belated happy birthday to u man. And hats of to u too. Ur life is a lesson to many…

  45. Suji Said,

    July 21, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday Alexis! Sorry I am a little late in wishing you. A life without regrets is a life well lived. May God bless you.

  46. Kusum Rohra Said,

    July 21, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

    Yeah, I generally don’t read too much poetry and this one I not only read, I read it when ever I feel I need to refresh my mind :)

  47. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 21, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

    p : Welcome and thank you for your wishes.

    Jithu: Long time no see…Thanks buddy.

    Suji: Thank you very much Suji.

    Kusum: Whatever you have read must be good poetry. This one is an excellent example how so much can be conveyed in a few short lines. See my first poem for guideline on how not to write one :-)

  48. D Said,

    July 21, 2006 @ 9:03 pm


    A Very Happy Birthday to you. Just who you are has an impact on peoples lifes way more than you know, mostly people you have probably never met. Reading your well -articulated blog has been a source of absolute delight and your perspective on all the insanity (loosely referred to as life itself) has a touch of empathy that is rarely seen.

    Your blog ( and by extension, you) are the best pick-me-up thats out there on the market ,Alex. I will personally vouch for that.

  49. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 22, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

    D: Thank you very much friend and welcom to my blog.

  50. mohammedjensin Said,

    July 22, 2006 @ 8:21 pm


  51. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 22, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

    mohammedjensin: Thnak you very much friend.

  52. D Said,

    July 24, 2006 @ 3:04 am

    Hello Alex,

    Is there an email id i can write to you at?

    thank you,

  53. Lekshmi Said,

    July 24, 2006 @ 12:01 pm

    Hi Alex,
    I’ve been reading your blogs regulary. They are a good source of inspiration.

    After reading this post, I could not resist posting a comment; it is marvelous.

    Belated Happy B’day.

  54. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 24, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

    Lekshmi: Welcome to my blog Lekshmi and thank you very much for the wishes. Really loved your blog and the post on Brahmacharya was really hilarious.

  55. Sreejith Kumar Said,

    July 25, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

    Belated Birthday wishes… I have no words having read your story…. Just HAPPY BIRTHDAY………….

    Mine was on 18th July

  56. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 25, 2006 @ 7:36 pm

    Sreejith: Thank you Sreejith and happy (belated) birthday wishes to you too.

  57. Jithu Said,

    July 26, 2006 @ 10:42 am

    i cant access blogs from my office. cant post any either. so out of blog world for the last one-two months :-( . using, now i cud read blogs atleast, illegally though, bt who cares :-) . bt i cant comment any. last day i found out that i can do both on ur blog so here i am :-) . btw i am 10 “days” elder to u. 9th July was my birthday :p. hope u had a nice time during ur birthday.

  58. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 26, 2006 @ 10:55 am

    Jithu: Inability to access the blogs is sad. I think, you were unable to access and post on my blog because it is not on blogspot. Thanks for dropping by. And happy birthday to you too. A lot of Cancerian bloggers :-) 10 days elder to you That was a nice one, and many many years younger ;-)

  59. Sreejith Kumar Said,

    July 26, 2006 @ 3:34 pm

    Re: Alexis

    happy (belated) birthday wishes to you too

    Thanks a lot :)

  60. Quills Said,

    July 26, 2006 @ 7:50 pm

    A very happy belated birthday! I had been traveling plus facing a lot of connectivity issues and therefore have been an irregular blogger. So I apologize for my late comment. Reading this post I am just reminded again, what a source of inspiration you are to me and many many others. I admire your strength of character, your convictions and your never give up attitude. All the very best Alexis and May God bless you.

  61. Alexis Leon Said,

    July 26, 2006 @ 8:41 pm

    Quills: Thank you very much Quills. Working really hard. No posts recently. Take care.

  62. Masd Said,

    July 30, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

    In you I have found a person of phenomenal courage. I extend my hand of friendship to you and I mean it. Happy Birthday to you.

  63. Nikhil Narayanan Said,

    August 1, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    Hope the party is still on…..
    Keep celebrating……

  64. Alexis Leon Said,

    August 1, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

    Masd: Thank you buddy.

    Nikhil: Oh yes, the party is always on. Like Mohanlal said in one movies “Life is the celeberation of events.” :-) . Thanks friend for the wishes.

  65. Vibha Said,

    August 22, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

    Many Many happy returns of the day !
    Great source of inspiration.Just loved the way u look at the positive side of life,and being happy with what u have and not brooding over what uve lost!

  66. Shwetha Said,

    August 22, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

    Hi! I have come across your blog many times. Linked by many persons.
    I salute you, bravo. :) I will read your blog regularly fro mnow. May the force be with you. :)

  67. Alexis Leon Said,

    August 22, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

    Vibha: Thank you for dropping by and thanks for the wishes.

    Shwetha: Thank you Shwetha.

  68. ash Said,

    August 23, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

    hi alex
    wonderful post-deeply moving-greatly inspiring-
    just have two words to say
    “keep rockin”!!!
    happy bday!!

  69. Alexis Leon Said,

    August 23, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

    Ash: Welcome to my blog and thank you very much for your wishes.

  70. Pramod Said,

    October 25, 2006 @ 11:35 pm

    I read this post today. Arguably it has been one of the most honest posts i’ve seen on Blog world.

    I just want to say this . ” I dont have words”

  71. Alexis Leon Said,

    October 26, 2006 @ 12:04 am

    Promod: Thanks Promod.

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