RASTA: A road Trip to NE with Family

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#16 Jan 7th, 2018, 22:47
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#16
Yes Somnath, Rainy season will be so much more to offer. I missed the greenery in Meghalaya.
#17 Jan 7th, 2018, 22:49
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Vaibhav, Thanks. This is my first Trip report ever.As a matter of fact, besides Karikor, TRs in Indiamike helped me undertake this journey.
#18 Jan 7th, 2018, 23:19
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#18

3rd December 2017 ..3rd day of the journey.

Started from Siliguri at 6.30.

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Narrow gauge train line, just on the front of the hotel

Decided to take the HASIMARA route by NH 131.

Nice views on the way, Kilometres of Tea estate, great view of the mountain ranges from far. Many Airforce and Army bases. Road till now is simply superb, hardly any traffic. Weather is pleasant.

Till now the feeling is, it's not a bad choice to choose this route as compared to the more travelled NH31 through Jalpaiguri, which seems to be the usual choice of travelers.

10am ..time to break the fast for the day.

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Nice hotel after Hashimara

Nothing much to write about on the way. After Hasimara, saw many cars( including those which are not yet launched in India i.e Toyata HELIX.....) with red number plate background. Later we realised, those were from BHUTAN. BP stands for Private ,BG stands for Government and BT stands for Commercial vehicles.

After Bongaigaon, there is a junction on NH31 at Barpeta Road (not town), The sign board informed just 22 kms to Bansbari (Manas entry point). The indian side is known as MANAS NATIONAL PARK where as the Bhtan side is known as ROYAL MANAS NATIONAL PARK. lots of lodges and forest camps are available in the park.

I REGRET NOT KEEPING IT IN MY ITINERARY. SOMEDAY I WOULD LIKE TO VISIT THE ENTIRE DOOARS REGION.

We got about 25-30 kilometres of very bad road. Rest distance was Zip......
#19 Jan 7th, 2018, 23:37
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Day3- Guwahati

Reached Guwahati by 3.30. The first place to visit had to be from a temple (Sandhya is the boss). So off to Kamakhya Temple to begin our Tour. The temple is situated on the top of a hill. Lodgings are available at the hilltop also. Excellent view of the city from the top....Loooooong lines of devotees. The temple is much more organised than many other famous temples, but how can you eradicate the priests who try to cheat you by different means. But it was bearable. I was told " early morning will be better for darshan". You can take photographs in the temple premises (unlike Puri Jagannath where even talking over phone inside the premises is prohibited)but not inside the main temple.
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Kamakhya Temple

Some of the great religious texts like the Shiva Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, the Kalika Purana and the AstaShakti recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers), like Bimala (Pada Khanda) (inside the Jagannath temple of Puri, Odisha), Tara Tarini (Sthana Khanda, Purnagiri, Breasts) (Near Berhampur, Odisha), Kamakhya Temple (Yoni khanda) (Near Guwahati, Assam) and Dakshina Kalika (Mukha khanda) (Kolkata, West Bengal) originated from the parts of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga.

Today's night stay is at Madhumita's homestay. It's about 12 KM's from Kamakhya. But being a Sunday, the river road was closed and traffic was diverted through Fancy Bazaar (Though Fancy Market Was also closed), still it took almost an hour to complete the journey.

It was our first experience with homestay. It's a pleasant stay. Nice people.

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Madhumita's Homestay

Right now confirmation came about ILP for Nagaland is not required during Hornbill. So tomorrow morning will be little late wakeup call. More relaxed approach.

Will go to see the Honey place at Khetri....hope to buy some Litchi flavoured honey as well as Mustard Honey. Nice story about the owner

And then travel further to Kaziranga.

Confirmed all homestays again. While traveling to NE, this is a must. Book homestays well in advance, many will not ask for advance. But you must remind them about your bookings from time to time. Else...... Mr. Shekhar's room now belongs to Mr. Smith.

Though I use Airtel, but while traveling to that part of the country you never know which tower says you Hallo.....BSNL, Vodafone and Aircel are the other operators who are good in few pockets. I bought SIM of all of them. Can not take any chance.

During winter, sun sets at 4.30. So either I getup every damn day at 4-5 to have a 12 hours day ......TOUGH or I loose out on my early morning sleep.... TOUGHER.

Can not get food in hotels on 25th December. As a matter of fact many homestays refuse to allow guests on that day. My homestay told me to arrange my own food that day. No complaint...... Chance for a bar-be-que near the river at shnonpdeng.
#20 Jan 7th, 2018, 23:50
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4th December...4th day of journey.

Wished Payal (My neice) for her 1st marriage anniversary.

Took it easy today and just lazed for 2-3 hours in the morning. Nice view from the homestay, which is on the foothills of a small hillock. Manav was busy, looking for birds from the terrace.

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After a long time we had bread toast as breakfast. Megha is no more fussy about food. Both Manav and Megha loved the concept of Homestay.

In the morning, I had an excellent discussion on the tourism scenario of North East with the host. They are also a travel loving couple. Got few tips for the road ahead from them.

Started our journey ahead at 8.43 am. Sandhya insisted to visit the Chevrolet service centre for another checkup. So here we are.......

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Guwahati Service center

After spending 2500, Everything set....next target Khetri.

The story of a sixth grade kid, who in order to pay the school fee decides to keep bee. 30 rupees per kg helped him to achieve schooling. But bigger things was in store for the small boy. Now after many years later little Arun is Mr. Arun Mitra. Now 48 living in his ancestral village on the banks of colong river along with two daughters and a son, he is into farming of everything ORGANIC besides honey, which remains his first passion even today.

Mustard honey, KalaJira honey, Dhania honey, Litchi honey, Kalinji honey, Gayasha Honey and Rubber Honey...... Many of us even do not know these flavours could be associated with honey.

We saw it all, Spoke to the person himself, met his family, spent some time in his small workshop where honey boxes are made.

Only thing we could not do was buy honey, as luck has it he had sent all his stock just 2 hours before our arrival.

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What a guy........

After negotiating the village road which is made for TATA 407 not for a sedan we reached the highway at 2 pm. For another 4 hours journey to our next destination Kaziranga.
#21 Jan 7th, 2018, 23:54
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#21

Day 4 Kaziranga

Teekoni bhawan turned out to be chikuni Bhawan. I learned a thing or two.....when in Assam listen like an Assamese. Chi.. is Tee...and ch.. is sh.. which mean chai becomes Shai and chikuni becomes teekoni.

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D.D Gogoi, the owner of Chikuni has also a story to tell, his life story.

After a nice hot water shower, Me and Mr. Gogoi sat with tea cups in our hands and 3 hours was spent to listen to another self-made man's interesting journey.

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As a tourist guide, he has spent many years in West Bengal and travelled to many places in the country. A suggestion of a lady from England made a young Gogoi to buy a second hand Maruti Gypsy in 1989. From a tourist guide he became a Guide with a Gypsy. Being the only guide in Kaziranga with a vehicle and manageable Spoken English made him the most sought after person those days.

A chance meeting with the General Manager of BSNL in Jorhat gave him the idea to jump into the business of STD PCO booth in 1995 at Kaziranga.

Today he owns the Chikuni Bhawan, the homestay at probably the best location of Kaziranga right next to the main entrance to the park at the central region.Also owns the only college in the area with 600 students. His business of PCO and Gypsy has been closed long back. Elder son is a wildlife enthusiast now working in Kaziranga Park, younger son who is an excellent drummer, helps him in the business.

Look at this person, always ready to take risk, start a new business. May be people like him are the real story of new India.

Till now, Airtel is doing well. Both call as well as data connectivity is excellent.

Food in Assam is less spicy or should I say normally spicy. So people from south India or even Odisha might need to add chilli to the curry.

Gas stations are present throughout the road....one will come across new petrol pump companies which are unheard of beyond the seven sisters states.


Good night....need to getup at 3.30 for early morning visit to the park to see Rhinos.
#22 Jan 8th, 2018, 00:12
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#22

Day 5- STORY OF KAZIRANGA

We got up at 3.30. Our excitement of seeing one horn rhino worked as the perfect alarm.

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There are two types of safari. Jeep Safari, longer duration, cheaper but you can not go very close to animals. But professional photographers prefer this as the angle of photography is not right from the top is an elephant. Elephant safari is costlier, needs to be undertaken very early, but the elephant takes you very close to the rhino. Also it can go to places which a jeep can not.

The ride on elephant is for 1 hour. 32 elephants on job these days. Only 3 are male ....rest all are female...Girls power driving tourists in Kaziranga. Our Mercedes for the day was a 40 years old female Monimala with the pilot named Ali. Originally Monimala is from Tejpur.

It feels bad to know about the inhuman way of training elephants. Also so sad to hear about Rhino poaching.

We did spot few Rhinos. A foggy morning means no good quality photos. Monimala crossed a small water hole while we were at the top...it was interesting for Megha and Manav.

My suggestions:

. While on elephant ride, must have lanyard strap attached to your mobile / camera so that you can use it without the fear of dropping it.

. The ride time is just 1 hour, so do not hold any backpacks other than your photography items.

. If you are in a group, divide and sit in different elephants, that way you can take photographs of each other.

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. Nagori gate from where the elephant rides take place is 12 km away from the main park entrance. Foreigners , Govt. Guests and VIPs are allowed through the main gate which takes them to the central region. So you may decide to stay in a hotel near Bagori, so that you do not have to travel far to reach the point. Tickets are done on the previous evening before 7 pm. Your hotel can do it for you.

. Best time to visit the park is March and April, when you can see more animals even tigers.Also this time is better for photography.

.Airtel was fine in the park too.

. One can opt for elephant safari from 5.30 till 6.30 and then Jeep Safari from 7.30...this gives the best combination.

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#23 Jan 8th, 2018, 00:36
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Day 5- Dhekiakhowa Bor Namghar

We started our journey further after breakfast at Chikuni. Thanking Mr. Gogoi for for being an excellent host. Our stay for the night was planned at Gibbons sanctuary near Jorhat. We were undecided about the exact plan for the day.....it was a choice between Jorhat (Toklai Tea Research centre ) or go upto Sibasagar and then come back to Gibbons....if we can reach Sibasagar, then why not visit Charaideo which is 28 km further away.

At last we decided to push for Sivasagar.

On the way to Sivasagar, about 11 km after crossing Jorhat bypass there is a small road after the Lahdoigarh police station on the right leading to a place called DHEKIA KHOWA BOR NAAMGHAR. Interesting story. There culture and traditions are very closely associated with our Jagannath Culture.

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We were surprised to see the truthfulness and simplicity of the people at the NAAMGHAR. They were genuinely happy to see people from Jagannath Dham visiting there place. The fact that, this NAAMGHAR is registered in Guinness books of world record for having a oil lamp burning for longest time (491 years) nonstop makes this NAAMGHAR even more special.

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#24 Jan 8th, 2018, 13:00
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#24

Day5- Sivasagar

We still had enough time for Sivasagar.

Sivasagar reminded me of Bishnupur of West Bengal. Many temples.....hundreds of years of history....culture of the time.....

Many places to visit- Joyasagar Tank, Gourisagar tank, Sivasagar tank and the Shiva Temple, Rudrasagar Tank, Talatal Ghar, Rang Ghar, Dargah of Ajan Fakir, Charaideo

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But the two things which caught my attention were the two unique Bridges.

NAMDANG STONE BRIDGE:It runs over the Namdang river. It was constructed in 1703.The unique characteristic of the bridge is that it was cut out from a single solid piece of rock. The bridge is a little carved in shape. During the time of Ahom kings cement was not in use for construction. A paste of Bora (sticky)rice, duck eggs, black lentils and lime was used to make the bridge.
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OLD DIKHOW BRIDGE: Keeping in mind about the facility for navigation, the bridge was constructed by Britishers in 1935 with a capability of lifting up of one of its sections to allow the trade boats and ships to pass beneath it.. Although the mechanism doesn't work these days and the bridge is closed for traffic, but used by pedestrians and other two-wheelers. How could I miss the chance to walk on our own LONDON BRIDGE?

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#25 Jan 8th, 2018, 20:46
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Day 5 Gibbons Resort

Sandhya was excited, when she saw a local market. 400 rupees poorer, and few kilos of vegetables more in the car, we rushed back to Gibbons resorts.

We were skipping either breakfast and mostly lunch on this trip. So decided to have a nice launch at Jhanji Dhaba just before reaching Jhanji. But again missed it.

We had planned to stay at Gibbons Resort so that next day early morning can go to see the only ape found in India.

After taking a turn from the national highway at Teok, it's a 13 kilometres road to Diganta Gogoi's village. Paddy fields, Tea gardens and Village environment, defines the place. There is a calmness in the environment. Diganta was there to receive us. Oh My God, what a house.....this was our first reaction on entering his home. He has spent a lot of time on detailing. It's a accomodation you love to stay in a remote place. Few cups of tea, couple of hours of sharing views and an excellent dinner. Dipu and Rinku are great guys at Diganta's house.

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Diganta is very passionate about the Gibbons forest. Being a photographer himself, he is a great guy to be around in such a place. His depth of knowledge about wildlife is nonparallel.

It was here in this Gibbons Forest on Feb 27th 2014, Three elephants were killed when an intercity train hit the herd.

"JORHAT: Three elephants were killed when they were hit by a local passenger train in upper Assam's Jorhat district today.
The elephants were killed when the Guwahati-Tinsukia Intercity Express hit the herd crossing the railway track at Venuguri village near Moriani Railway Station, officials said.
The elephants were returning to their nearby habitat Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary. While an adult elephant was cut into pieces, a calf died after it was hurled about 500 metres away due to the mishap.
Another adult elephant was found dead lying near the train track, they said, adding, forest personnel have rushed there.
Train movement was briefly disrupted on the route.
A tiger, which had strayed from a sanctuary, was also recently killed after being hit by a train while another elephant was killed at the same spot about six months ago."


Diganta and people like him are fighting a battle to save these beautiful animals.

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With a mixed feeling went to bed.
#26 Jan 8th, 2018, 21:30
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Day-6 HOLLONGAPAR GIBBON SANCTUARY

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Hollongopar Gibbon Sanctuary is the best place to see the ape in India. They are the second biggest gibbons in the world.

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Just before entering the forest we saw a group of Khalees pheasant, a bird which is rare to sight. As we moved in along with Pradeep Barua(the guide), Heremba Bhuyan (the security gunman) and Diganta ji, we kept finding many wild animals.......hillock Gibbon, Capped Langur, Pig tailed macaque, Racket tailed Drongo, Green Billed Malkoha, Khalees pheasant, Drongo cuckoo, Laughing Thrust, Malayan Giant squirrel, Orange Bellied Squirrel .....the list goes on.


It was a very successful day.Specially the sighting of a Family of Gibbons along with a tiny little one on the top of the tree, eating Bonpitha Fruit, Manav got some excellent photos. The sighting of leopard pug marks was also a first for us.

The story of the Gibbons, their life was fascinating to know:

After 6 months, the fur colour changes.

An adult with black colour fur is male where as light golden is female.

Hollok gibbons found here are western hullock gibbons and considered to be close to extinction.

Gibbons give birth once in 3 years

They have maximum four offsprings

After becoming adult, young male gibbon find a partner from another family and start his own family in a new area.

They do not make their family members as their partner.

If the partner dies they remain widow for life.

Simply Great.

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#27 Jan 8th, 2018, 21:53
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#27

December 6th....sixth day of our trip-MAJULI

After a fish lunch at Diganta's, we proceeded to Majuli via Meleng. Reached just in time to catch the 1.30 pm ferry from Nimati ghat to Kamalibari in Majuli. ( First ferry from Nimati is at 8.30am and last one at 3.30 pm).
Car loaded on the ferry along with another three cars and more than 30 bikes.
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The lower deck was meant for passengers. Me and Manav on the upper deck, standing for the 1 hour journey. It was nice.
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From the Ghat, there was almost no road for the first 1 km. The place is just like any other big village.

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Majuli is the the largest river island in the world. But the rampage Brahmaputra has reduced the island from 1200 odd square kilometre area to a mere 400 odd now.

The Satras ( just like Monasteries of Buddhism) in Majuli are the main attractions. Also birds in large numbers come here in winters.

Exploring the island by bicycle is the best way to explore.

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Traditional bamboo cottages there.....Manojit was our host. He along with his family manage 8 cottages. They were the first to start home stay in Majuli way back in 2005.

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The dinner for the night was a extravaganza of non-vegetarian. 3 types chicken preparation and 4 fish dishes. All in traditional Missing tribe style.

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#28 Jan 8th, 2018, 23:18
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December 7th....our 7th day of journey- MAJULI

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Morning had few interesting things in store for us. Manojit hangs bananas for the birds to eat. Novel idea. In the morning there were different types of birds eating the bananas just few feets away from our sitting area. Great to observe the behavior of the colourfull birds.
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Size:  89.6 KBThe First Cottage of Majuli....."A young Frenchman named Jim Chauvin came to visit Majuli in 2005. An architect by training, the visitor fell in love with the Island and decided to build the best tourist accommodation on the island." Upon completion he named it La Maison De Ananda and returned to his country. I have been running it since then. The place has become a hot favourite with the tourists visiting the Island," said Manjit.
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Later in the evening, Ravi spotted a creature may be from a weasel family. Manav spent almost 2 hours, camouflaged under a blanket to capture a close-up shot of the shy and Elusive animal.
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We took it easy in the morning. Decided to drop the plan of birding. Birding in Odisha is one of the best in the country, the verities of birds which are found in Mangalajodi is far far more than in Majuli. So we were left with the option of Satras, Natak show, Mask Making, pottery making and visit to some real beautiful sights.
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#29 Jan 8th, 2018, 23:37
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7th Day- Majuli- Satras

MASK MAKING

Stage show,wearing various costumes and masks is an age-old tradition of Assam and in particular of Majuli. They perform stories from Mahabharat, Ramayan, Bhagavad etc. As per the requirement, the mask makers keep preparing new stories. Starting from concept to writing, direction and acting all done within the group. A group can be of 12 to 30 Members. The stage show is done by a team of 12 if the story is simple and duration is about 30 minutes. For a 2-3 hours show a team of 30 is required.

Usually the artists are into farming and other professions. Just 10-12 shows in a year and selling 30 odd masks in a month is not enough for the artists.

Today the biggest name in this field is Dr. Hem Chandra Goswami of Samaguri (CHAMAGURI) Satra.

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Spent few beautiful moments with him and few of his co workers. His life history, his visit to Odisha, sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik, Shankardev ji visit to Orissa about 509 years ago and its mention in his life book, everything was discussed. Dr. Goswami showed us some bhangi/mudra too. It took him few seconds to give the mitti he was holding the shape of a monkey.

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Being from the land of Lord Jagannath, we have found that people from Assam very easy relate themselves to us. Many traditions, lifestyle even words are same / similar. The culture of Odisha is extremely close to that of Assamese even more than Bengali culture.

After saying goodby to the Guru, we headed for Dakhinpat Satra. It's 364 years old and one of the Satras which still has the old charm. Balgopal is the main god here. They also worship Lord Jagannath. The temple has uneven mud flooring and huge wood pillars. The place had calmness written all over. The monks places , a small zoo inside, the two talabs and houses around the water. It was worth the time.
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#30 Jan 8th, 2018, 23:42
Join Date:
Nov 2017
Location:
Bhubaneswar-India
Posts:
119
  • BIMAL PRADHAN is offline
#30

7th day-MAJULI-

While coming out of the, we met Frederic. He was on the same boat as ours while coming from Nimati Ghat to Majuli.

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Frederic is a 71 years old ex- seaman from Germany. Fluent in English, he has traveled to more than 70 countries. Thus tour of his, passing through Turky-Iran-Pakistan-Napal started about 7 months back in his bike. He entered India about 7 weeks back and plan to explore the country for another couple of months be fire his next destination, which he is not sure about.

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I really envy this guy.

Manav named him "THE ROCK STAR"

All the best Frederic.
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