Festival of Divine Feminine Incarnation

In India, this is the festival week. People are euphoric about the Durga Puja festival, in which, according to Hindu philosophy, goddesses Durga, the God’s incarnation of Feminine energy, is worshipped. Across towns and cities massive temple structures are created by local artisans using cloth, bamboo sticks and decorated with flowers(it is called pandal). The image of the Goddesses is installed at the altars, where she is depicted killing the demon Mahisasura. She comes on a lion and has ten hands with different weapons in each hand. All these have symbolic and philosophical interpretations.

During this festival people perform austerities and fasting as a part of the prayer. During evenings grand prayers are offered and everyone visits the temple. A spectacular aarti is performed amidst the drum beats which shakes up the soul, as it is a majestic sight. A priest will wave an earthen pot with incense and holy leaves burning inside it and perform a kind of devotional dance while waving the pot with smoke rising from it in front of the deity. The sound of drums and shehnaai will add rhythm to the priest’s movements. The act displays an act of surrender towards the Goddesses and an expression of thankfulness and gratitude for her mercy.

The ancient texts tell the background of this festival. The demon Mahisasura performs austerity and penance to earn benefaction from the Creator of the Universe, Lord Brahma. After several thousand years of prayer, he pleases Lord Brahma, and demands that he be bestowed with the boon of immortality. Lord Brahma says that he cannot grant him that wish as he himself is a mortal. Lord Brahma is a demigod and the ancient texts tell that the demigods, who are subservient of the one supreme immortal God, have limited life spans. Although this limited lifespan is described as being millions and billions of years in duration. So Lord Brahma denies that boon. Flabbergasted, Mahisasura thinks and then demands that he get a boon that no one be able to kill him – nor man, nor an animal nor a demon or a demigod. This boon is granted to him that neither man nor animal, nor demigod nor demon be able to kill him. Soon after getting this boon he becomes proud of his powers. His ego bloats up and he kills anyone whom he sees performing austerities. It depicts how power corrupts an individual. He wants to be acclaimed as the most powerful creature and destroy anyone whom he considers a threat for himself. The saintly people become afraid of him and they approach many demigods for help. But because of the boon given to him, no one can do him any harm.

The ancient texts say that when saintly people are harmed and virtue starts diminishing in the universe,  because of entities misusing their free will, there is a divine intervention for the protection of the saintly. So the texts tell us that the Divine appeared in the feminine manifestation as Goddesses Durga. While Mahisasura had the boon that he cannot be killed by man, animal, demon or demigod, Goddesses Durga was a feminine power, and so she could destroy the demon.When he was asking for boon he never envisaged about the possibility of being killed by a feminine power. In the war that ensues, Mahisasura is killed and the saintly people start worshipping the goddesses for her mercy. It was a victory of good over evil.

This festival recounts this essence. During this festival, the feminine energy of the Divine is worshipped; the motherly, protective and powerful energy. Because the incarnation of Godesses Durga was out of anger against the demon Mahisasura, this form of divine feminine energy is associated with fierceness and anger, but only the demons fear it. The virtuous see it as her compassion and protectiveness.

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Word High July: Bughaw

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Blue

One fine day in summer June

Singing loud and cheery tune

Friends exploring wilderness four

Breaking the silence with their roars

Besides the river the jungle spread

Carefully though on brink we tread

Excited thrilled and spirits high

We kept trekking the river side

Wondering what fun more awaited

When one friend at once located

A massive cliff towards which we headed

Nothing that day we least had dreaded

But upon reaching the spot

We admitted that we could not

Find a way to climb that steep

Cliff so we must now try to leap

The far side of the river and go

Exploring more of jungle so

One by one we each descended

Down the land where sea had bended

Let’s get down to the river now,

And holding hands together somehow,

Cross this river sparkling blue

Where crows above noisily flew

Then my first friend slowly got down

“It’s not deep” we heard his sound

As I put my foot in there

The ground beneath me ebbed somewhere

And in a flash I splashed in deep

Carried away by a powerful sweep

Of the currents of angry river

Whole frame of mine then tossed with quiver.

Blue and Blue was all I saw

Tasted water harsh and raw

I knew not how to swim back then

I gasped for air panic stricken

The river played me like a toy

As mad bull rides a poor cowboy

Then by miracle something caught

My legs as I pathetically fought

Towards the shore was I then thrown

And quick for life I clasped a stone

I coughed the water then my mind

Saw my friend who had been kind

To jump at once and swim like fish

Before I drowned like a wrecked ship.

 

–  r prab

 

(Source of above image : Water Minimalistic)

 

In response to Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words: Bughaw

 

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Weekend Exploration: Libraries

I had a day full of travelling today. As I have come to a new city and have gradually found myself settling down with the new job and new shelter, today I felt I am ready to start for the next milestone- find a library here, for my weekend hangouts.

Thanks to my brand new smartphone, the first smartphone for me, I bought for myself last week (My elder brother helped me get the best one within my budget), which helped me use Google maps and go around wandering in the city.

I found three of them .The largest one was called ‘The City Central Library’. I decided to visit that one first.But upon reaching there I found it’s closed for restoration and will open in the first week of July. It was a disappointing start!

The second one was difficult to locate, as the Google navigation was showing me I had reached ‘The British Library’, although there was no such building anywhere around. I had to walk in random directions to figure out where it was located. This one was a good library! I walked across all the bookshelves and then gathered at the helpdesk about the membership rules.Finding it affordable I signed up immediately and got an Icard too.

I thought whether to explore the third library or not.But since I had time and I had already got the taste of exploration with my new device, I decided to go for it. The third one required me to walk considerably after getting down at the nearest bus stop. This library was called the ‘Mythical Society’. With such a fascinating name, it was alluring me a lot. When I reached there I found a colossal church-like structure. All the entrances were closed and some construction work was going on at the gate. There was no security guard or any associated personnel to whom I could inquire. Lastly, I checked for their number on their website (through my new smartphone, yes! )  and made a call. The person was kind enough to send me a guy who helped me get to the library.It was located on the backside of the building.

There I found lots of book on History, Science, Arts and Social Science.The librarian told me there was no fee to use the library services, though one could not borrow books. ‘You can come and read here’ he said. That was fine. Their collection of books was impressive. I was mostly attracted towards the Science section where I found some classical editions of famous Astronomy books. It was delightful and I spent quite a long time there.

I am glad I have found these places. All I want to do on a weekend is to travel, read and  write. With such fine libraries now discovered, I am sure to have a good time during weekends, doing the three things I love to do!

Thank you for reading .I hope you all are also having a good time and doing the thing you wish to do during the awaited weekends! 🙂

PS: Although I have got a smartphone now, I am still not very active in taking photographs.(Since last 5 years I had the basic Nokia phone.I admired it for the simple life it gave me and I used to rely on my laptop for all the other works) I hope I will form that habit soon. It’s only now when I am writing it here, I realize I should have taken pics. 🙂

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(Image not owned by me.Source: moroepl)

Remembering the Visit to The Sun Temple

“Here the language of stone surpasses the language of human”

— Rabindranath Tagore (Indian poet and Nobel Laureate, 1861-1941)

***

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I tried to regard the scene from the perspective of my younger brother, who was seeing this magnificent relic from history for the first time.Till that moment, he had only seen it in his history books.

We were standing in the vicinity of giant archaic monument- The Sun Temple at Konark in the state of Orissa (India). I had been there previously, several years ago, the memory of the last visit was fresh in my mind.

During my previous visit, I was probably 14 years old. I was there with my father, my sister and my elder brother.That time, when our bus had brought us near this tourist site, my excitement had knew no bounds.Old things- artifacts and monuments from yore, thrills me immensely.

Just finding a simple archaic book in library escalates my fascination to heights, then  imagine in what a mesmeric state I would have gone into, standing there in front of that monument, which had every essence of archaism  imbued in it.

As I had entered the exquisite compound in that previous visit, a colossal sculpture of what looked like a dragon over an elephant had caught my gaze. A tourist guide was explaining about it to an entourage of visitors some distance away.I could make out his words, though it had required me to strain my ears a bit ” ..the man lying below symbolises Humanity, but above it is an Elephant, signifying that Buddhism is superior to it.Elephants were used to depict Buddhism.But on top of that is the ferocious roaring lion, symbolizing Hinduism, and that, it is superior to them all..”

When I was walking on that same path again, 10 years later, with my younger brother this time, I could catch his interest upon seeing the same sculpture of man, elephant and the lion.I  could hear the echo of the words I had heard from that tourist guide in my mind. I started explaining it to him, with excitement.Dance_Pavilion,_Konârak_-_Lion.jpg

 

When we were inside the prime temple compound, a feeling of awe and wonder started surging within me again as the sensation of thrill, of being around archaic things started to crawl in. I stood before the temple, the old decrepit structure, now supported by iron columns to prevent it from collapsing. I recalled from my memory having read about it in history  books.

Built in the 13th Century by King Narsimhadev-I, this temple was dedicated to the Sun God.The temple was made in the shape of a vast chariot, the wheels and horses sculpted on its side.The temple faced east, such that the first rays of the sun in the morning traced the path in between the pillars at the entrance and reached straight to the main chamber, falling upon the deity of Sun God, sculpted inside in the sacred position.

I recalled from my previous visit, the information, that over the years  the temple had been pillaged for the ancient sculptures of the deities. The manhandling, and also because of the geological reasons, it was crumbling down.The iron beams were installed to protect it from breaking. Furthermore,  in 1903 the whole interior chamber of the temple was ordered to be filled with sand and its main door sealed with big bricks made of rocks to further reinforce support and save  it from falling down.

I walked again towards the main door, where the sunlight used to enter without any hindrance once,  there,  nothing could enter now as only big blocks of stone bricks laid closely thrust blocking the entrance solidly.

As my brother went about exploring the spacious temple compound I sat on the old stone stairs just gazing at this old piece of historical remnant, silently standing without any emotion.The sun was setting behind it.I could see young people studying the architecture, families taking photographs of each other, children running around and playing cheerfully. The sun was warm and dizzy.I slowly felt every voice around me starting to fade.All the signs of modern world disappearing, the iron beams that supported the temple vanished, the clouds ran amok like a time lapsed film and I saw it! Ancient people walking around the temple, clad in white loin clothes, with the ceremonial threads hung across their shoulders, their foreheads smeared with holy symbols. I looked back, and saw dancing girls, in their adorned yellow saree with red borders, and white flowers curled up in their hair.They were performing Oddissi, a classical dance form, to the beats of mridangam, a barrel-shaped double-headed drum ,an ancient musical instrument. They sang songs in an archaic language.I turned around and saw the sky above turn dark, then suddenly, light sprouting like a blooming flower from the clouds, a strand of light, golden in color raced from the heavens and traced its path along the walkway, passing by the lion and elephant sculpture.The dancers greeted it with their dance. The musicians eulogised it in their songs.The ray moved swiftly and entered the main door of the temple, the rock bricks were no longer there, it reached over  the solemn deity of the Sun God, illuminating the chamber and the priests showered flowers upon it, rang the holy bells and chanted the sacred mantras. The temple was back to life. Back with the people who had created it and whose lives revolved around it.

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***

When we were departing, I asked my brother what things he liked about the temple.He went on to tell with animation how much he delighted seeing the actual magnanimity of it which hadn’t become apparent in the books. He went on to tell of his admiration for the intricate designs carved all across the monument in fine details and admirable symmetries.

As we were boarding the vehicle to return back, I turned to take a one last look at the monument. For more than 800 years, it has stood here.It has seen several weathers come and go, land forms change, people come and go- it has been the witness of mankind from the age of kings to this age of technology. It has grown old now, its wall has eroded, its frame has cracked, it is feared to crumble down, more beams have been added for its support.

I began to perceive the monument as an old abandoned person.Very weak, sick and not willing to talk with anyone.It had its glorious years, with its people who had created it and whose lives revolved around it.They were all long since, dead.It was the only survivor.And it had lost all interest in life.It now didn’t bother who was walking around.These new people were anyways very different and it didn’t belong to this era of them.It laid solemnly gazing at the sky unaffected by the sound of cheers and the strange flashes of light these people produced- recalling the years it actually belonged to, when the morning ray of light used to enliven everything around it.

(18th April has been declared by UNESCO as the World Heritage Day.When I came to know of this information, I at once sat on my computer to make a post about my visit to the Sun Temple, which forms a very dear part of my memory.My first visit there had been in 2004, then again in 2014.The Sun Temple was declared as UNESCO’s World Heritage site in 1984 and is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of India)

 

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Text on the slab near the gateway of the temple reads: ‘To preserve this superb specimen of Old Indian architecture, the interior was filled in by order of The Hon’ble J.A. Bourdillon C.S.I Lieutenant Governor of Bengal A.D 1903′

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The wheels of the temple are sundials which can be used to calculate time accurately to a minute

 

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The Sun Temple Compound: The iron beams for support can be seen protruding from the left side of the temple

 

(Images not owned by me, All images sourced from: Wikipedia)

 

 

The Library

When I was a child, I used to visit an old library.It was located quite a distance away from the city.I would ride my bicycle and take my first halt at the market near the temple.There, I would have some snacks and beverages.

Then I will start my long cycling trip to the library.The route entailed me to pass through a desolate long road, lined on both sides by massive trees.While I passed through that stretch of the path, my excitement would start soaring.

The canopy of the trees made it feel like passing through a green tunnel while the shrill chatter of thousands of birds echoed like in an old abandoned castle.I would slow down my pace to experience the moment in all its detail.The sound, the view, the color, the smell, the chaos, the dampness, the isolation.

After passing that, I would quicken my pace because the path would slope down.It would take me some 30 more minutes to reach the library.I would disembark near the gates.The gates will always be open in a careless manner.There were trees, shrubs and wild plants all around the library. The library itself had discolored walls and random patterns made on  it from decaying moss.

Ideally, the place did not have a very inviting outlook.However it was this sense of abandonment, desolation, and antiquity that actually attracted me to this place.And I would often be the only person to visit that library.With its collection of books, all old, the archaic aroma and the (sometimes scary) silence, I considered the place to be one of the favorite destinations for spending my evenings.

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An Internship to Remember

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I could hear the sound of my own breathing while walking on the pavement in broad day light, despite the noises of the vehicles on the highway behind. The sun was pouring down fire unconcernedly and the scorching temperature must have been around forty degree celsius.I was attired in stiff formal clothing; even the wrist buttons were closed. I was wearing black formal shoes whose sole was ‘straight line depreciating’ with every passing day of the field work.Despite having clean polished it in the morning, it looked like a shoe that had been snatched out from a Delhi waste management truck. My foot inside was numb.I carried a heavy bag on shoulders, containing a water bottle, a laptop, and lots of brochures of all varieties of trucks.

My partner,walking besides me had the same descriptions except that he was fatter than me, had more patterns on his shirt made because of the sweat and supposedly, more frustrated. We were walking towards the Netaji Shubhash Place Metro Station silently.Both of us knew we had a bad day.We couldn’t locate most of the offices,while the ones we could locate,had either closed down permanently or the concerned person to be met was unavailable.After having travelled around for so many hours, making plenty of inquiry, and trusting blindly the Google navigation, only to end up at wrong locations, we had accomplished nothing since we started our day’s duty from 9 AM.It was 3 PM and we had at last decided to return back to our place at Noida sector 16.My partner,Ravi,had always been a talkative person.But on this 36 th day of our internship,he had finally entered the silence mode.Perhaps he had become more contemplative now, just like any other person, who is talkative when life is rosy and becomes contemplative when life gets tough.But then,I still think it was more of a frustration than contemplation that had made him silent.He might not have been getting the right words to spell out his frustration. He had already been abusing the Google navigation some hours ago,because of which we had landed up at a wrong address, and had to retrace our steps(after being guided by a policeman) in such a hot afternoon. I didn’t want to interrupt the silence as we proceeded.

Walking mechanically in the heat, I felt the sweat drenching down my forehead. I took out my handkerchief to wipe it. As I put the handkerchief back in my pocket, my partner spoke all of a sudden- “And everybody thinks that MBA people only get to do the lavish jobs!”

****

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“Yun hi nahi mai Rajnigandha ban jaata hoon”(I don’t become Rajnigandha(a mouth freshener brand) just like that)- read the massive billboard at the iconic Rajnigandha chowk(square),at  Noida Sector 16 crossroads, which attracted my attention while I was sitting on a railing waiting for the bus that would take us towards Safdarjung Enclave.It was the first day of my internship and I was pretty much excited.Being a fresher, this was going to be my first experience with the corporate world.I had my own fairy tale like predictions.Having completed my first year of MBA,I was laden with enthusiasm to put all my knowledge into practice.I had mildly dreamt of the possibility that my contribution in the internship will give such a boost to the company that the CEO himself will be willing to know about me in person.I had brushed up my concepts of market research and had thoroughly studied about the trucks and trucks market,because that was what my project was going to be about.

“511- Daula Kuaan”shouted my partner Ravi,who was more pragmatic than me that day,”get ready, this one we have to board”

del1Swarms of office going people-girls and boys, men and women swarmed in like honeybees towards the bus.I began to get the flavour of having become one of those corporate people now, who run to catch buses, tell people you are in meetings so can’t talk, make fun of your bosses and in the bus discuss with random people how the government is not doing its job well; work relentlessly all weekdays, spend the hard earned currency to drink on weekends and then curse Mondays.I was excited to experience all these things in the course of my internship.

***

“An axle with two tyres has the load handling capacity of 6 tons, while an axle with four tyres,two on each side has the load capacity of 9.6 tons.Hence a 25 ton truck has 10 tyres” We had a 5 hour long session for getting to know about all the technicalities of trucks,their costs,capacity,pollution regulations and design variants.We were taken to the dealership to see the trucks physically and understand the differences between the different variants.It was a merry day.We got to meet many people of high ranks in the business and we had lunch together which helped us become comfortable with each other.Dining together is always a good way for ice breaking and I was glad for having gained a place in this niche coterie.

Later in the evening  we were handed a database,containing the information of several builders and contractors in Delhi who could be the prospects of our company.It was a rough database.Some addresses were incomplete,some companies’ phone numbers were missing, some companies’ purchase manager’s  name was missing or someone’s whole address was missing.Our job was to update this whole database. search the internet, call on phone, pay them physical visits,and get to know about their projects,their current fleet size,their upcoming requirements of trucks,and intimate them about the trucks of our company.”Find out who makes the purchase decisions in their companies, meet them, understand them, build relation with them-and create a comprehensive database with all these information.” This was going to be our final deliverable.A project of pure primary market research.marketresearchmainimage-e1448320475924

***

Sitting back here in my hostel room, I recall those days of travelling in those posh and dingy Delhi lanes,  locating addresses, meeting all sorts of clients, dealing with them professionally , discussing their projects and explaining about our trucks  while sharing tea with them in their corporate offices. Finally, we were able to categorize more than fifty prospective clients who could possibly make a purchase within the next 6 months.

The experience and exposure I got through this project was unparalleled. An added accomplishment was the delight of exploring the whole of Delhi in the process.(I could write a whole another post about the myriads of things I saw, experienced and learnt from Delhi.It was a life changing experience,literally!Delhi is magical!) But for this post I would only say that I got a chance to travel in all the color lines of Delhi metro, end to end; And by the final week,I relished the delight of having progressed from a ‘confused novice’ asking the ways, to an ‘oriented expert’ guiding the ways.

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Memories from the Hills

The spirits were high.The weather was adding to the enthusiasm.The moist merry wind was distributing freshness to everything coming it’s way.The hills of Shillong had got us all in love with itself too quickly than we had imagined.

We had hired a cab.An antique Maruti car.It must have traveled the rugged terrains of the hills for years.It appeared to me like an old man who had lived his ages of thrills and had now retired,taking pleasure in just doing his work,though with no sense of adventure attached with the trips anymore.It had already housed countless families,friends and couples take a ride along the winding paths-had seen them leaning on the windows,heard them gaping in awe,taking pictures frantically and saying words of excitement.It may not have felt any different carrying the five of us -Bittu ,Sanu,Mayank,Chinu and myself and hearing the same old words of excitement and happiness that people say during the trips to the hills.

***

As the car winded down the slope, I felt a tinge of thirst and looked for the bottle of water.”Stop the Car” I shouted,as I saw the empty bottle and a small shop outside simultaneously. The driver decelerated the car towards the left.”Whats the matter?” I was asked with mixed voices each laden with excitement and worry. “Oh,let me just get a bottle of water.” I said apologetically with a smile for having caused an alarm unnecessarily.”Ow we can take it later” was the instantaneous reaction.”Ya we will reach our next spot within 15 minutes,take the water there” was the next proposal.But I was adamant.Of all the things, not getting water when thirsty makes me restless.So I pressed a lot and the car was stopped.”Come back quickly” was the unanimous response I remember hearing ,as I closed the door behind me.

The car had stopped on the left side of the road and had moved quite a distance away from the shop.The slope was downward.I had to cross the road,taking care there was no vehicle raging down the path.

The shop was uphill, on the other side.Even before I had reached the shop I could hear the car I had just came out of,blaring horns and my friends there shouting towards me to rush and return quickly.It is not a good idea to let others wait when they are expecting to have a fast paced adventure tour and you make them stop,bringing a temporary halt to their adrenaline rush.( which was also fueled up because of cruising down the ‘Need For Speed’ like roadway.)

The shop was a two storied house.Isolated.The lower part was made into a shop.A girl was sitting at the counter.A young girl.Probably 16 or 17 years old.With dark eyes and bright face which is so distinctive with people in the hills.

She smiled,happy to have a visitor.You can but only reciprocate such a welcome with a bigger smile,and that is what I did. “Do you have a bottle of water?”I asked immediately,remembering my friends on the other side of the road,who must be getting impatient.

“Yes” she said.Suddenly springing up from her chair.Ready to do the job she was put there for.Her smile was gone.She was now a lady in charge of a situation,and she was going to perform her role promptly.She walked towards the fridge.I heard the noises of glass bottles tingling.I looked back at my friends away in the car.They were gesturing to come back quickly.I heard the horn blows again.I turned towards her.She closed the fridge without anything in her hand.”Sorry ,there is no bottle of water.” She said with a smile trying to suppress her feeling of guilt.Perhaps she felt bad that she had started up to do her task so excitedly but her effort had been in vain.I tried to comfort her by smiling more affectionately.”Ow,it’s alright.”I said concernedly and thought about buying something else from her,just to make her feel good.But before I could say anything she said-“Ok wait” and disappeared through the door towards her right.That was the way to the inside of her house. I felt she must have recalled that they have a stock of water bottles which hasn’t been kept in the fridge yet and so she had gone inside to get a bottle from there.

I heard the horn blares getting louder now.I turned to see.Now Sannu was out of the car and saying something to me.I couldn’t hear him,though from his body language I could sense he was saying-” What the hell are you doing for so long!” I lifted my hand assuring him that I was almost done.But the horn blares made me start panicking.I looked back at the door through which she had disappeared.I could only see the curtain swinging smoothy as the moist wind from up the hill blew across the shop.Where is she?I imagined her unpacking big brown cartons of mineral water bottles,probably with her mother’s or father’s or perhaps a brother’s help.Then I imagined her family working dexterously taking out the packaged sets of Kinley or Bisleri or some other local brand,handing them over to her, to be kept in the fridge at storefront.I took out the money in exact figures so that as soon as she came I would pay her and walk back quickly.

***

“She should have come back by now.” I calculated.The horn continued to blare across the road.I looked back at the blowing curtain.There was no sign of her.Should I leave? It was almost 5 minutes since she had left.I took a step to walk back to the car, when I saw the curtain being pulled and she appeared.. slowly walking… pulling the curtain aside with her left hand while in her right hand she held a beautiful tray.. with a glass..full of fresh clear water..

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