LEC DEM MELA

Saturday, 29 September 2018

FROM THE EDITOR


October has been the month of quite a few anniversaries at Sruti. The founder-editor N. Pattabhi Raman was born on 24 October 1932 and the magazine in October 1983. Years after Pattabhi Raman’s death, The Sanmar Group formally took over the running of the magazine in October 2006, the same month the present incumbent retired from the group and joined Sruti as editor.

Elsewhere in this issue, we have traced the magazine’s growth in a self-congratulatory tone, but it is also time to remember some of the stalwarts, especially those who have contributed editorially to Sruti, or enriched it with their artistic expertise and wisdom through the decades, making it what it is today. If Pattabhi Raman’s seniors in his family lent him solid support, mostly moral, but also in the form of sage advice from time to time, many artists, art-scholars, art administrators and historians, and bureaucrats made valuable contributions to the character and personality of the magazine.

The writers of articles—both topical and general interest—who give Sruti its distinctive stylistics, have been distributed not only all over India but overseas as well. One of our stellar correspondents specialising in Indian classical dance was Nala Najan an American who came to south India to learn Bharatanatyam in the 1940s. His mentor Mohan Khokar was another outstanding resource for Sruti. S.P. Sundaram of Montreal was a valuable contributor of news and notes from the western hemisphere and a great friend of Sruti. Other correspondents from Canada were Mamata and Harbans Nakra. In recent years, the German born Carnatic flautist and music historian Ludwig Pesch has served to maintain Sruti’s presence in Europe as a window to India’s performing arts, while Shankar Ramachandran has been an insightful commentator based in the US. The learned S.K. Saxena was Sruti’s pride in Delhi for long, with his deep erudition and liberal vision in matters musical, northern as well as southern, and Manna Srinivasan was our ambassador at large in the capital region, a bridge between south Indian artists and officialdom. His despatches were known for their empathy for both performer and impresario, young talent as well as mature maestro. S.V. Seshadri aka Aeolus combined style and substance. Leela Venkataraman has been our veteran dance critic, also operating out of Delhi, while scholarwriter Sunil Kothari is the roving critic, jet-setting across the globe. In Bengaluru scholar and critic B.V.K. Sastry was an asset as is Sakuntala Narasimhan now.

Back at its headquarters, Sruti has been blessed with a whole battery of experts. Starting with the likes of resident sage T. Sankaran, versatile genius S. Rajam, Telugu poet, playwright and lyricist Arudra, polymath Pappu Venugopala Rao, the hardto- please researcher-musician-musicologist N. Ramanathan, musician and writer Sulochana Pattabhi Raman, two Krishnans of varied scholarly and intellectual backgrounds—M, the naturalistcolumnist- artist, and S, the writer-translator; musicologist B.M. Sundaram, vidushi R. Vedavalli, dance writer Nandini Ramani, P.C. Jayaraman, V.S. Sundara Rajan and son V.S. Kumar, Lakshmi Devnath and many more brilliant minds, not to mention top musicians and dancers of the day that congregated at Alapana, the Sruti office, created an effulgent if idiosyncratic amalgam that defined Sruti and helped it to transcend the mundane cares of niche journalism.

K.S. Kalidas, T.T. Narendran, Lakshmi Sreeram, Savita Narasimhan and Mannarkoil J. Balaji are performing musicians who have brought a touch of class to our pages with their depth and clarity of expression. Bharatanatyam dancer Anjana Anand is another belonging to this category of contributors. Art critic V. Karpagalakshmi has over the years focussed on critiquing and encouraging young talent. Some other names that come to mind are Sulochana Saralaya, Kusuma Rao and Srilatha Krishna of Bengaluru, Gayatri Sundaresan, then of Chennai, later Mumbai, R. Sethuraman, Vimala Sarma, K. Subhadra Murthy, the towering Deepak Raja (our Hindustani music expert) and the many splendoured Manohar Parnerkar, all from Mumbai, and of course our sterling contributors from Bengal and the northeast—Meena Banerjee, Mitra Phukan, Nita Vidyarthi and Tapati Chowdhurie.

From Kerala, we have had some knowledgeable correspondents starting from S. Umamaheswaran, followed over the years by Shyamala Surendran, and K.K. Gopalakrishnan, the Kathakali and Koodiyattam specialist. S. Sivaramakrishnan and more recently C. Ramakrishnan have brought to light many splendid Carnatic musicians from Kerala.

This is by no means a complete list nor even a proper acknowledgement of the substantial role played by each of these excellent writers who have approached their work for Sruti in a spirit of loving service to the arts. We shall continue to recognize the work of more such contributors to the Sruti cause in the next few issues. Meanwhile, a big thank you to all who have made our journey so far possible.

V. RAMNARAYAN

Thursday, 27 September 2018

K. S. Narayanaswamy

Birthdays & Anniversaries 


K. S. Narayanaswamy  was a Carnatic veena exponent of the Thanjavur style, in which nuances and subtleties are given more importance over rhythm based acrobatics. He was awarded the Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1979.

He underwent initial training in Carnatic music under K.S. Krishna Iyer, his brother, between his seventh and fourteenth years. Later, he joined the Music College at Annamalai University in Chidambaram where he learnt vocal music under stalwarts like Sangeetha Kalanidhi T S Sabesa Iyer and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Tanjore Ponniah Pillai, descendent of the famous Tanjore Quartet. He also learnt the veena under Desamangalam Subramania Iyer and the mridangam under Tanjore Ponniah Pillai. From 1937-1946, he served as the lecturer at the Annamalai University, his alma mater, and assisted in publishing the Tamil kritis of Gopalakrishna BharathiNeelakanta Sivan and Arunachala Kavi.

He was a recipient of many awards including the State Award of Kerala in 1962 and that of Tamil Nadu in 1968;the National Award of Central Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1968; the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India in 1977; Sangeetha Kalanidhi from the Madras Music AcademyChennai in 1979 and the Swathi Ratna in 1999.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Papanasam Sivan

Birthdays & Anniversaries 

26.9.1890 - 10.10.1973
Papanasam Sivan  was a prominent composer of Carnatic music and a singer. He was awarded the Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1970. He was also the foremost film score composer in Kannada cinema as well as Tamil cinema in 1930s and 1940s.[2]
A famous composer, Sivan was also known as Tamil Thyagaraja. Using Classical South Indian as a base, Sivan created numerous hits popularised by M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavatharand M. S. Subbulakshmi.
In 1962, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama
Later in 1962 Papanasam Sivan received the President award and in 1969 he received the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani award bestowed on him by The Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai. He was conferred the Sangita Kalanidhi in 1971.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Emani Sankara Sastry

23.9.1922 - 1987
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Emani Sankara Sastry was born in DraksharamamAndhra Pradesh. He came from a family of celebrated classical musicians. His father Vainika Bhooshana Veena Acharya Emani Achyutarama Sastri, a famed vainika and sastragna was a contemporary of Sangameshwara Sastri and Veena Venkata Romainiah Das of Andhra.

Emani played duets with Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, and Pandit Gopal Krishan (on vichitra veena) evoking enthusiastic responses from the North Indian listeners. After completing his education from Andhra University, he joined the famous Gemini Studios at Madras, where he was the music director for more than ten years. He composed tunes based on novel techniques and directed music for hit films such as ManglaSansarBahut Din HuweVindhyaraniNishanMr. Sampat and English version of Chandralekha.[1] His own compositions of keerthanas, javalis and bhajans can be frequently heard in his solo concerts. His operas in Hindi and regional languages are also very popular. Emani joined All India Radio in 1959 as producer of music at Madras. Soon he rose to the position of director and composer of national orchestra and chief producer of music. He presented over the broadcasting network a number of classical, thematic orchestral compositions and folk melodies bringing out the special tonal qualities of Indian instruments and synthesised musical patterns with a distinctive Emani touch. Emani was also associated with cultural and academic organisations. He was the asthaan vidwan (court musician) of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, member of the university grants committee – to advise on music and member of the expert committee at Madras Music Academy. He was also designated founder chairman of the committee to select candidates for scholarships of the education ministry for Carnatic music, was a member to select film awards (national), member of the central Sangeet Natak Akademi to select candidates for the national awards.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Guru Narmada

22.9.1942 - 30.3.2007

Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Guru Narmada contributed immensely to dance and students of dance with her generous giving and sharing of all her knowledge of dance. 
She trained some fine artists like Lakshmi Gopalswamy, Manju Bhargavi, Sathyanarayan Raju, Nirupama Rajendra, Malathi Iyengar, Praveen, and Anuradha Vikranth. Her students describe her as a great teacher and a good friend and guide.

A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee for her contribution to dance, Narmada also received the Shanthala Award from the Government of Karnataka. With over 25 years of teaching experience, she was one of the most senior dance gurus of Bangalore. 

Narmada had her initial training from VS Kaushik, and training in the Tanjavur style of Bharatanatyam from KP Kittappa Pillai for 18 years.  She opened her dance school Shakuntala Nruthyalyaa (in memory of her mother) at Bangalore in 1978 . Instilling in her students many rich, creative ways of using adavus without sacrificing classicism was a notable part of her teaching. She encouraged her students to retain their individuality and creative freedom within the classical framework.

Jitendra Abhisheki

Birthdays & Anniversaries 
21.9.1930 - 7.11.1998

Jitendra Abhisheki, an exponent of the Agra gharana, was one of the most popular Hindustani vocalists of the 20th century. He received his musical training from . Hussein Khan and Jagannathbua Purohit. Known for his rendering of khayal and thumri, he did extensive research on the music of folk theatre.

Abhisheki won a reputation as a vocalist whose music, delivered in a husky voice, appealed to lay listeners as well as connoisseurs, though basically he sang for himself. His performances drew capacity audiences. His reputation burgeoned further because of his deep involvement with natya geet which was reflected in the natya pada-s he composed. In his musical creations for Marathi musicals like 'Matsyagandha', Khatyar Khaljat Ghusli', and Yayati ani Devyani'  , he blended tradition and modernity in a beautiful way.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

T.R. Subrahmaniam

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Professor T. R. Subramaniam popularly known as TRS was a vocalist in the Carnatic tradition. He was popular for infusing unconventional and populistic techniques in his renditions, especially of the pallavi, without compromising on the classicism of the rendition. Famous for his willingness to explore new avenues regardless of whether they would be accepted or not, TRS' concerts were much sought after. He was also much loved as a teacher.

The third recital of the series, on 7 July, was by T.R. Subrahmaniam of the Delhi University. He was accompanied by T.Rukmini on the violin, Trichur Narendran on the mridangam and  N. Govindarajan on the ghatam.

TRS opened the concert with Muthuswamy Dikshitar's navagraha kriti, Angarakam, in the raga Surati. For the seven kriti-s on the planets, Dikshitar employed the sapta tala-s, namely, Dhruva, Matya, Rupaka, Jhampa, Triputa, Ata and Eka, in that order. I have observed that many musicians employ the colloquial way of two beats and one veechu (sweep of the hand) the composer's intentions. Regrettably, TRS too took liberties and rendered Angarakam with two beats and one veechu. As an instructor of music, in its theoretical as well as practical aspects, TRS has a duty to uphold tradition, respect the sentiments of great composers and acquit himself as a shining example.
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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Saroja Vaidyanathan

Birthdays & Anniversaries
19.9.1937

Saroja Vaidyanathan  is a choreographerguru and exponent of Bharatanatyam. She was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 by the Government of India.

Saroja is a prolific choreographer and has to her credit ten full length ballets and nearly two thousand individual Bharatanatyam items. She undertook a cultural tour of South East Asia in 2002, accompanying Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the ASEAN Summit in 2002. She has also published her renditions of Subramania Bharati's songs and poems and some of his works have also been set to dance by her.

Saroja Vidyanathan has written a number of books on Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music including The Classical Dances of IndiaBharatanatyam – An In-Depth StudyCarnataka Sangeetham, and The Science of Bharatanatyam.

Saroja was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013 by the Government of India. She is also the recipient of the Sahitya Kala Parishad Samman of the Government of Delhi, the Kalaimamani title bestowed by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She was conferred the title of 'Bharata Kalai Sudar' in 2006.

Indrani Rahman

Birthdays & Anniversaries
19.9.1930 - 5.2.1999

Indrani Rahman was an Indian classical dancer, of Bharata NatyamKuchipudiKathakali and Odissi, which she popularised in the west, and later settled in New York in 1976.
In 1952, she won the Miss India pageant. Later, she joined her mother Ragini Devi's company. She popularised the Indian classical dance form, Odissi during her international tours. Indrani had received the Padma Shri in 1969 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the performing arts and also the Taraknath Das Award.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Jon Higgins

Birthdays & Anniversaries

18.9.1939 - 7.12.1984
Jon Borthwick Higgins (September 18, 1939 – December 7, 1984), also known in India as Higgins Bhagavatar, was an American musician, scholar, and teacher known principally for his rare skill as a non-Indian in the field of Carnatic music. He lived much of his student and professional life at Wesleyan University.
He founded the Indian music studies program at York University in Toronto with Trichy Sankaran in 1971, and returned to Wesleyan in 1978 as a professor of music and Director of the Center for the Arts. He continually sought to strengthen the quality of Wesleyan's curriculum, and immersed himself in numerous cultural activities inside and beyond the university community. He also maintained a deep relationship with his family.
Higgins was a singer of European and Western classical music. He is also recognized as the first non-Indian to perform South Indian classical Carnatic music at a high level of proficiency. He began his Indian music studies in Wesleyan courses taught by Robert E. Brown and T. Ranganathan, and was quickly captured by the subtle beauty of the art form. He decided to fully dedicate himself to learning the language of Carnatic music, and went to India on a Fulbright scholarship to learn from Ranganathan's brother, T. Viswanathan. Within a short period of time he performed to great acclaim at the Tyagaraja Aradhana, an important music festival in South India. He later continued his studies under their sister, renowned dancer T. Balasaraswati, and wrote his dissertation on the dance music of bharatanatyam. Higgins returned to India as a Senior Research Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He continued to perform Carnatic music, recorded several albums, and due to his widely recognized sensitivity was honored with the sobriquet "Bhagavatar" (scholarly musician). 

NALCO Award


The jury of the OMC Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival presented the NALCO guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award to Dr.Sachi Das (Theatre) and to guru Lingaraj Behera (Odissi) on 9 September at the 24th OMC Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award Festival 2018. The NALCO guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Yuva Prativa Samman was presented to four young artists in the area of classical dances and Odissi music. The recipients were Sonali Mohapatra (Bhubaneswar) & Subikash Mukherjee (Kolkata) for Odissi dance, Swati Sinha (New Delhi) for Kathakand and Rohan Suresh Dahale (Mumbai) for Odissi Music.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Lalgudi G. Jayaraman

Birthdays & Anniversaries

17.9.1930 - 22.4.2013
Lalgudi Gopala Iyer Jayaraman (17 September 1930 – 22 April 2013) was an Indian Carnatic violinist, vocalist and composer. He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2001. He is commonly grouped with M.S. Gopalakrishnan and T.N.Krishnan as part of the violin-trinity of Carnatic Music.

He expanded the style of violin playing by inventing a whole new technique that is designed to best suit the needs of Indian Classical Music and establishing a unique style that came to be known as Lalgudi Bani'. Jayaraman composed several 'kritis', 'tillanas' and 'varnams' and dance compositions, which are a blend of ragabhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. Lalgudi's instrumental talent comes to the fore in the form of lyrical excellence. He brought the most-sought-after vocal style into violin, and his renditions exhibit knowledge of lyrical content of the compositions.[4][5][6] Lalgudi actively and scientifically learned to self-critique his performances and dutifully wrote detailed reviews after each concert, a habit encouraged by his father and guru.[1] He was loath to experiment on stage in his solo concerts and almost always planned to the last detail, leading a certain critic to tout them as being intellectual rather than emotional in spirit, but Lalgudi's spontaneity and innate musical genius were often seen when he accompanied leading vocalists.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

M.S. Subbulakshmi

16.9.1916-11.12.2004
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi (also known as M.S.) was an Indian Carnatic singer from MaduraiTamil Nadu. She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.[1] She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia's Nobel Prize,[2] in 1974 with the citation reading "Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India

The rendering of songs in Carnatic music is in the nature of 'ashtavadhana' (a feat of doing eight things simultaneously). It consists of adherence to sruti, command over laya, remembering the sahitya, knowing its meaning, bringing out the bhava, correct pronunciation, understanding the special features of raga and the use of gamaka-s. One who masters all these aspects is a compleat (meaning perfect) musician. MS was one of the few who belonged to this elite category.

A rarely known fact is that Jaidev, the venerable music director of Hindi movies, had approached MS to sing Allah tero naam in Gaud Sarang for the movie 'Hum Dono'. Unfortunately she did not agree as she had cut off all connections with the film world after 'Meera'. One can only speculate as to how the song would have been rendered by her. Instead Lata Mangeshkar provided the playback singing in a chorus. She sang the song as only she could have done. It became an all-time hit. In this connection a recent interview of Lata by The Times of India will be of interest to readers of Sruti. She listed her ten favourite songs. The first one was Aayega aanewala in 'Mahal'. This is what she said: "In those days I was a fan of M.S. Subbalaxmi (sic). I must have seen her film 'Meera' at least 50 times. Her style of singing got ingrained in my memory. Though the lyrics of 'Mahal' (written by Kamal Amrohi) were almost Urdu, while singing it I imagined how Subbalaxmi would have sung it." What a tribute from one Bharat Ratna to another!.
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Alathur Venkatesa Iyer

16.9.1895 - 1958
Birthdays & Anniversaries 

Venkatesa Iyer (born 1894) had drifted from a vedic-chanting family to learn music. He mastered the harmonium and could even demonstrate gamakas on the instrument, goes the story. Moving forward to the 1910s, Venkatesa Iyer married and settled down in Tiruchi. The first son, born in 1914, did not survive even for a year. The second, born in 1916, was named Sivasubramaniam.

Venkatesa Iyer’s association with Pudukottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai and Palani Muthiah Pillai, and his opportunity to tune the lyrics of Tiruppugazh which had a variety of complex rhythmic settings, rooted him strongly in laya. This was meticulously imparted to the two boys, making them experts in this aspect of music.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

T.N. Seshagopalan

Birthdays & Anniversaries
15.9.1948

Sri Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan, the celebrated Carnatic musician and composer had his initial musical training under his mother and Sri. Ramanathapuram C. S. Sankarasivan (a great disciple of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, the eminent musician and composer). (Sri Sankarasivan is the elder brother and guru of the famous mridangist C S Murugaboopathy).

In 1983 the prestigious Music Academy of Madras arranged to have a program of Seshagopalan in order to record special CD's and cassettes which have now been released by Oriental Records in the United States.

His many commercial cassettes and CD's are treasured possessions of his many ardent fans and admirers.

Viswanatha Iyer

Birthdays & Anniversaries

15.9.1896 - 1970
He has been described as the Grand Cavalier of Carnatic Music; as a Rabelaisian character; as a bon vivant; as a bohemian of the well-dressed kind. He was all of this, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer was.

He was, in essence, a free spirit and this was manifest in his music as well.

Music was in his blood, born as he was to a man who was well-known as a gifted amateur musician among connoisseurs of his day. He was the third child of Rama Iyer of Maharajapuram and his wife Amba. Rama Iyer, a landlord, lived in Maharajapuram, a fertile village on the banks of Kaveri river, in Tanjavur district. Endowed with a natural musical voice, he used to regale select listeners with his raga alapana-s. He would be invited to sing at festivals and religious functions. It is said that listeners on such occasions would be so moved by the slokas and viruttam-s sung by Rama Iyer that they would even forget to taste the payasam- the sweet delicacy— served  to them.

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Friday, 14 September 2018

VEENA SAHASRABUDDHE

Birthdays & Anniversaries
14.9.1948 - 29.6.2016

Veena was born in Kanpur on 14 September 1948 as the last of three siblings. She had an elder brother Kashinath Bodas, and an elder sister who died prematurely. Veena’s mother Shanta was also a singer who taught music in local schools. Shanta was encouraged by her husband to pursue both her school and music education. Veena grew up in this musical atmosphere at home. In addition to her lessons from her father, she also learnt from Kashinath.

Veena’s parents Shankar Shripad and Shanta Bodas hailed from Sangli in Maharashtra. A contemporary of Omkarnath Thakur and Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Bodas was an early student of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.

Active in the nationalist movement, Paluskar was in the habit of sending his students to different parts of the country as music missionaries. He deputed Bodas to Kanpur, after being requested by locals to bring classical music to that mainly industrial town. Paluskar had performed in the 1925 Indian National Congress meet at Kanpur and by 1926 Bodas moved there with his wife and settled there. Bodas and Shanta founded ‘Sangit Samaj’ and started teaching, inviting other performers and propagating music in Kanpur. The music of the Paluskar tradition was essentially in the style of the Gwalior gharana.

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Alarmel Valli

Birthdays & Anniversaries
14.9.1956

There is never a dull moment in her dance. Alarmel Valli is one of the best known divas of Bharatanatyam. She has represented India at prestigious cultural forums and impressed mainstream audiences abroad with her eloquence in dance and words. She has intelligently sculpted an attractive filigree of nritta and abhinaya on the strong foundation laid by her guru Pandanallur Subbaraya Pillai. 

How do you describe Alarmel Valli’s dance? This petite, agile, and vivacious artist is always a picture of self confidence on stage. ‘Valli’ means a creeper and her slender arm movements have the sinuous quality of a creeper swaying in the breeze. 

Valli’s USP is the musicality of her dance. The titles of the documentary films on Alarmel Valli – Pravahi and Lasya Kavya – are apt and represent the ebullient, graceful and poetic nature of her dance. Well known features of her dance are her joyous nritta marked by midukku or sparkle, with liberal use of ottam (running) adavus interspersed with light aerial movements which help her lithe frame to cover space in an incredible manner. There is a kulukku or jauntiness in her walk, a certain alakshyam or sauciness as she flicks her wrist in the ullasa nadai. Valli is a vibrant dancer but not a photo-perfect one. Her facial angles, her arm stretches, her elbow positions, body bends, and her araimandi on the move may not always be on the dot. Her attami is not gentle but pronounced. She presents a judicious combination of mukhaja (facial) and angika abhinaya peppered with coquettish glances accompanied by a typical slant of the neck. This flows into her nritta as well, but her abhinaya is clear and communicative as she weaves in interesting metaphors, steering away from melodrama. However, as hers is a spirited style, her flashes of intensity are often swept away in the swift momentum of her dance. You are left wishing for quietude and visranti.

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