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About Changez (Response to Ziki's post)


bentley wrote:Ziki, I also think that Changez was a hypocrite; but I gave him a little bit more rope because I honestly felt that he had a meltdown, was a bit mad like Erica and hated himself most of all.

And like you I do not think he was a harmless professor. But I also asked myself if he would be the executioner; I do not think so. I think he would be the front person, the person who could set up the foreigner. Everything seemed too convenient including just happening to be on the street and taking the foreigner to tea and then spending four hours talking to a complete stranger. I asked myself why and how that event could possibly have happened from both points of view: both the American's and Changez's.

Regards,

Bentley




I also had a strong feeling about Ch. in Valparaiso: "get hold of yourself and do what you promissed". But he couldn't. There was a hint in the book that he couldn't help it in the moment (like he saw his own disloyalty to Jim and other collegues first later).

But that doesn't mean he was not aware of what he was doing. As if he were choosing his failure and not being able to stop it. As if he were his own victim, not America's victim actually. He wanted what America had to offer him but he couldn't pay the price on the tag.

At some point the only way to extricate yourself from such an 'existential trap' is in a negative way: if you are not courageous enough to make a needed and difficult decision to quit consciously, you see to it that you are kicked out. You do not respond to calls and invitations. In this way Ch. bought one way return ticket to Pakistan and he went through the gate already before he agreed to go to Valparaiso. Chile was just the last third of his slide.

Was that the only way for him to make a decision to return to Pakistan? Was the possibility to continue in America so inviting that to save his 'soul' he needed to set up his own catastrophy, to wreck his own financial tower in order not to have another choice but to return? Was it therefore he was glad when he saw the TV pictures of the attacks? Not because of what they meant on the outside, to others but because of what they meant on the inside to himself only? He would return, inspite of the fact that his family also needed his money, inspite of the fact that he enjoyed the credit cards and limos. There were strong reasons to keep himself in the US circuit that he also tried to fortify by "falling in love" with Erica. He knew early on it was an impossible mission but she was American after all, she was an object for him to use and help him to anchor himself more firmly. Fragile and unstable as she was it was better than nothing and for the reader his desperation became even more palpable. Apparently it didn't work, even that attempt was doomed. At the end he unconsciously gave himself the permission to be totally selfish. One could say that he didn't have another chance to find his ground but to crashland on the pavement and discover if he possibly survived his own collaps ( and the collaps of the towers/his own tower that he tried to build up).

The book also circles around the so called feminine and masculine values, the reason and the heart and Ch. was not balanced in that respect. Mind you, he was very young and maybe it is too much to expect it from him. It was actually his developmental task that he struggled with and after 9/11 he was not goverened by reason after all.

[In his job (morally) he needed to choose sides: the employees in those companies he analyzed or their management. Jobwise his task was defined, on the personal level he was not clear about what he was contributing to. He wanted his own money (squared if possible) and in consequence his work-input was perhaps denying the wages to those employed in the companies he evaluated. (Was he the shark or the good guy, who was he?). I can guess that in a long run it is morally more rewarding to teach (and be poor, LOL). To stay in US he'd need to sign his agreement with the devil. It was a kind of side theme in the book for me; a parallel situation to the more pronounced US/Pakistan cultural trap that he was caught in.]

I think it is realistic that a person can sometimes be so "blind" and not able to act on obvious cues. Others might see it in the moment but not the 'actor' himself.

As to what happened in Pakistan, he could also be used as front person without his knowing. We are left only to speculation regarding the time after his return to Lahore.
The "now time in Pakistan", where the reader is the observer, is stripped down to bare stage floor with two chairs and a table, I can see this as a play, :smileywink:


Thanks bentley for your input, the thoughts unfold in a dialog.


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global economy

I think basically I was saying the problem isn't with the financial aid to the foreign students and I am not sure that they do not appreciate it.

I wish I could simplify the world and say what needs to be done to better it and make it more livable except that we all have a strong tendency to point the finger and blame the other for problems we experience. We all are doing it at times and it doesn't lead us any closer to any solution.
I guess it is like the astronauts see it, the globe has no boundaries written on it and we should at least keep that picture in mind. Some new technology helps and we can but hope it all goes the right way and we do not have to walk "that Road". :smileywink:

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Re: (Response to bentley)



bentley wrote:I would refer to that previous post first.

And I do think America needs to understand the benefits of spending so much money abroad and not spending it on rebuilding its own infrastructure like that destroyed in Katrina. Why not spend money sent overseas in part to rebuild New Orleans for that matter. Many private citizens have been helping to rebuild New Orleans. Our cities do need some attention. And believe me I am for helping others as much as we are able. I am not sure how the billions spent in the second Iraqi war is helping anyone but everything else that America has done in the first Iraqi war (helping the Kuwait Muslims) and also in the Serb/Bosnia conflict I was certainly for.

I think you have to look at what you are giving to whom in balance. I think what I posted on the other thread is a balanced view.

Regards,

Bentley




Yes, thanks. Point taken. How the second Iraqui war is helping? In moments like that I try to stretch the mind and admit that I can't see all the consequences and hope that in a long run even something that looks bad will lead to something good at the end. On the local level I try to do the same and it helps me over the humps that at times seems 'unnecessary' but seen from a wider perspective they all mean learning and thus a progress.

:smileyhappy:
thanks bentley

ziki
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Re: (TRF as a Play)

[ Edited ]
Yes, Ziki..I can see this as a play as well with some minor script changes allowing the American to speak.

I know The Road and The Historian which I read both had movie rights sold. I am trying to picture how a movie could be made out of this book. I guess it could be if the characters were developed more and the dialogue changed. It would be interesting viewing Pakistani life and Lahore (sort of an exotic movie)...a peek into the Eastern world.

Even as a play, you could not have one person do all of the talking (although on Broadway there have been monologues; but not one of two people just sitting mute while the other did his talking).

With some script changes it still could be a play like Beckett's Waiting for Godot. That play had few characters as well. I felt when I was reading it...and also when I was hearing it read by Hamid in the NPR interview he had with Terry Gross; that it could easily have been an essay like that of Emerson or Thoreau. It could have been a view from Pakistan rather than from Concord, Massachusetts.

Emerson and Thoreau were independant thinkers as well and liked to portray opposing or new viewpoints. They marched to a different drum.

Message Edited by bentley on 05-12-200711:11 AM

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Re: Changez in Pakistan



bentley wrote:And how good or bad Changez would appear to be would be dependent on who was doing the judging?




True, I am just trying to decide what kind of man he was. According to the book he is a 'stranger'. That is the whole pun of the book but does he need to remain a stranger? He suggests there are attractive girls, there is food...there is the normal life same all over, andhe indeed knows the 'pther side of the moon'-America, too.

But does he as a result of his personal journey take a standpoint, make a statement, takes an action? The book doesn't say anything definitive on that point, methinks.
Was he a reluctant fundamentalist in US paying attention to the fundamentals of the economy in companies? Did he become (due to his own doing) a reluctant fundamentalist in Pakistan 1) cooperating with terrorists or 2)just reluctant fundamantalist according to the possible judgements of the US officials?

It would be more daring if the book was a tad more definite in that respect and didn't just stay with Ch's past.


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gun



bentley wrote: I was thinking it was a gun and that might have helped someone and not others.




me, too.....combined with the abrupt ending of the story.
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Re: global economy


ziki wrote:
I think basically I was saying the problem isn't with the financial aid to the foreign students and I am not sure that they do not appreciate it.

I wish I could simplify the world and say what needs to be done to better it and make it more livable except that we all have a strong tendency to point the finger and blame the other for problems we experience. We all are doing it at times and it doesn't lead us any closer to any solution.
I guess it is like the astronauts see it, the globe has no boundaries written on it and we should at least keep that picture in mind. Some new technology helps and we can but hope it all goes the right way and we do not have to walk "that Road". :smileywink:

ziki




Yes, I feel the same way. But you also did cite Changez as a hypocrite and I have to agree. We must be careful..all of us need to really say what we mean..and explain always if there is miscommunication. Otherwise, suspicion and mistrust occur. It doesn't mean that others have to agree with us or take sides. A good frank discussion is a good thing. And Changez never had that discussion even with Jim who was gracious right up to and including the end of his job.

Changez hid his views from others; at some level he was ashamed of them and/or knew that they would not be tolerated by his fellow workers after 9/11 and also he hid his issues from Jim. He had so many opportunities to come clean and to discuss his views and see if they were distorted or not. I do not fault him so much from making a different choice; but in playing people along. You can't talk one way in private or among your cohorts to get along and then speak another way in public and not have conflict at some level. It really is not about being on one side or another..it is mostly about developing a strong self identity of who you are and what you stand for and having a well thought out rationale for what you believe in...I did not think that Changez loved who he was. I don't think that Changez has any boundaries...he had plenty of walls around himself..self built ones.

As far as financial aid, Changez was embarrassed he was receiving it as was Jim (it wasn't an East/West thing). I am sure that 99.9 % of students appreciate their aid; Changez just seemed to be the .1%. I still feel that we need to understand diversity everywhere here in America and also in Pakistan. I wasn't talking about others; I was talking about Changez and how he approached his opportunities. He didn't seem to be enamored with any of his opportunities, financial aid from the US, education in the US, money (Underwood Sampson) , jobs (Underwood Sampson) or friendships (Jim, Wainwright). All of these pluses in the novel were turned into negatives in some way by Changez.

Everything was flipped. What I am saying is that no matter how good you try to be or a country tries to be even its best intentions can be misconstrued on purpose. Some can manufacture bad out of good. That is really hard to stand up against.

And what usually happens is that people shut down and not speak to folks who are perceived to be "on the other side". We really all belong to this world so you are right..we are all on the same side as far as this planet goes.
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Re: Changez in Pakistan

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote:


bentley wrote:And how good or bad Changez would appear to be would be dependent on who was doing the judging?




True, I am just trying to decide what kind of man he was. According to the book he is a 'stranger'. That is the whole pun of the book but does he need to remain a stranger? He suggests there are attractive girls, there is food...there is the normal life same all over, andhe indeed knows the 'pther side of the moon'-America, too.

But does he as a result of his personal journey take a standpoint, make a statement, takes an action? The book doesn't say anything definitive on that point, methinks.
Was he a reluctant fundamentalist in US paying attention to the fundamentals of the economy in companies? Did he become (due to his own doing) a reluctant fundamentalist in Pakistan 1) cooperating with terrorists or 2)just reluctant fundamantalist according to the possible judgements of the US officials?

It would be more daring if the book was a tad more definite in that respect and didn't just stay with Ch's past.


ziki




I think he was all of the above and that is what drove him mad. Tony Blair who is resigning stated (and I am paraphrasing very broadly here) that when he first came into office he tried to please everybody and realized you cannot keep doing that..then he just tried to do what he believed in keeping an open mind to new facts, etc but not being driven by public opinion or the next new thing.

If you try to please everybody you do not even please yourself. In Changez's case, he can't blame his family. They were proud of him and even his mother wanted him to shave his beard before he went back. They were not trying to draw him back to Pakistan..Changez really has to stand on his own and there wasn't really anything for him to stand on. I think he was a fundamentalist (job category at Underwood Sampson abbreviated as US), then he became a reluctant fundamentalist at his job (one meaning), then he did admit to activities which put him into contact with others who might also be construed as religious fundamentalists and the rest is blurry. I think it was blurry on purpose leaving it up to us to decide as readers. One thing I do not believe Changez is: naive...that he is not.

Message Edited by bentley on 05-12-200711:57 AM

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Re: Discussion (Gun or no gun and other questions) - Spoiler

[ Edited ]
Gun or No Gun and Ending of Book:

Thought that I would point out that it looks like there are three folks who think the American had a gun and one who does not:

Me, Ziki, Dianearbus

Not sure:

PaulH

We haven't heard from anyone else on this.

Curious as to how all of the rest of you felt when you completed the book. Did you think the American was carrying a gun? What do you think happened at the end of the book after you read the last page?

My take is that the American shot Changez and anybody else who detained him or tried to hurt him. I do think that the Daniel Pearl story was woven into the novel somehow; but then I thought when the American was at the gate why would he be reaching for his tape recorder if he was in serious danger (which he was)...and it wasn't his phone he was reaching for because he did have that out previously in full view.

That is my ending; what is yours?

Names of the Characters:

Who thinks that the names of the characters were conveniently named? Changez for changes, Underwood Sampson (US), Wainwright (Wayne Right), Erica (America), Chris (Christianity) and so on? And that there were all sorts of star wars and other analogies (shrubs, curveball, etc)?

I think Paul H introduced that concept originally so possibly he feels that way (don't want to speak for him), Bentley does, possibly x-tempo?

What do you think? Do you think that Changez was named after Genghis Khan or was that another curveball?

Ten words which describe Changez:

Thought this might be fun. List 10 words which describe your feelings and/or opinions about Changez by the end of the novel.

Here are mine: Mad, Fundamentalist, Arrogant, Conflicted, Duplicitous, Manipulative, Dangerous, Extremist, Vociferous, Sociopath

Also do you think that Changez was a good guy, a bad guy or both at the end of the novel?

Here is mine in advance:

I think he was both depending on your perspective and depending upon what point in time you were observing his behavior: for the American sitting at the table across from him (bad); for the Pakistanis (good) and prior to the end of the novel (he appeared to be both). I think he became outwardly quite dangerous to himself and to others by the end of the novel.

Erica

Do you think that Erica committed suicide?

My answer is yes. What do the rest of you think? Just make a choice if you think you can.

I have finished the novel quite awhile ago and enjoyed the discussion with Dianearbus, Ziki, X-Tempo, Christyscmh etc. Thank you for the interesting dialog and interactions..I will pop back into the Community Room to see what people thought in the final analysis; but am off to read something else. I think we really dissected this book and it was provocative and polarizing in some respects. You do not want to take sides; but you are given choices and it did make me reflect anyways on what I really believed and why. In that, it was a useful exercise..I believe. Ciao everyone.

Also, Happy Mothers Day to any mothers out there. :smileyhappy:

Message Edited by bentley on 05-13-200701:17 AM

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Re: (TRF as a Play)

Bentley:
Even as a play, you could not have one person do all of the talking (although on Broadway there have been monologues; but not one of two people just sitting mute while the other did his talking).

There is a wonderful one act play by August Strindberg called "The Stronger" which has two characters and one does all the talking. During the play, the woman talking discovers that her friend who is silent has been having a long term affair with her husband. It has to be read to be appreciated.


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Re: global economy



bentley wrote: We must be careful..all of us need to really say what we mean..and explain always if there is miscommunication. Otherwise, suspicion and mistrust occur. It doesn't mean that others have to agree with us or take sides. A good frank discussion is a good thing. And Changez never had that discussion even with Jim who was gracious right up to and including the end of his job..




Interesting you mention that...I was pondering it this morning against another background thinking that often more problems arise if the issues are not expressed but kept hidden.

This is a problem in dysfunctional families and also in organizations. Changez couldn't speak openly with his mother. But is that really so? Rather I'd say he didn't even attempt. It's different if you try and fail.

In that respect at least he tried with his employment (and failed)....but not so with his communication (in US or Pakistan). I've got the impression that Jim was open but Changez remained mute. Ch. didn't even attempt some kind of meta-comunication, perhaps saying: "I do not know what to say". Even that would mean an opening. I am not sure if he is hiding under his burka :smileyvery-happy: or if he is imprisoned there.

Perhaps his culture is both a security and prison to him, unable to discard the one and adopt the other, unable to adapt he doesn't survive. At the same time he represents the cultural elite of his country and if those people give up the 'culture' what is left? Changez seems to be sitting on the shore of misery. Is Lahore an exile to him?

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Re: (TRF as a Play)


dianearbus wrote:
Bentley:
Even as a play, you could not have one person do all of the talking (although on Broadway there have been monologues; but not one of two people just sitting mute while the other did his talking).

There is a wonderful one act play by August Strindberg called "The Stronger" which has two characters and one does all the talking. During the play, the woman talking discovers that her friend who is silent has been having a long term affair with her husband. It has to be read to be appreciated.


Lizabeth




That is very interesting Lizabeth. I just do not know if an American audience might feel angry about having the Pakistani protagonist do all of the talking silencing the American. We know that Mohsin said that this was done on purpose; but I doubt it would go over with a Broadway New York crowd. I can see how the other would work because the woman who is silent has left her friend in the dark and betrayed her and her silence symbolizes that betrayal of the other's friendship. Also the topic may be identifiable as a domestic issue which might resonate with some..but considering NYC was the attack site, I am not sure that it would bode well for the actor protagonist. You know how folks even believe all they see in soap operas and it has happened quite a few times that they slap some of the stars on their face(s) because they didn't like something the character said or did. As outlandish as that might sound. Keeping the American silent I do not think would work...but I admit I have not seen the Strindberg play. What do you think about the sensitivity in America and silencing the American? Do you think these themes and this dialogue would work on Broadway or in mainstream America. It might work in an artsy presentation at a very forward looking urban school for example but I am wondering about mainstream America. I guess the critics would decide like they always do. What do you think about its viability.

Anyways I don't think I would pay to see it done that way..but that is only me. It would seem like someone was reading an essay...but that is just mho..I know that I am only one person who might feel that way...do you think it would sell in its present format?
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Re: global economy

[ Edited ]

ziki wrote:


bentley wrote: We must be careful..all of us need to really say what we mean..and explain always if there is miscommunication. Otherwise, suspicion and mistrust occur. It doesn't mean that others have to agree with us or take sides. A good frank discussion is a good thing. And Changez never had that discussion even with Jim who was gracious right up to and including the end of his job..




Interesting you mention that...I was pondering it this morning against another background thinking that often more problems arise if the issues are not expressed but kept hidden.

This is a problem in dysfunctional families and also in organizations. Changez couldn't speak openly with his mother. But is that really so? Rather I'd say he didn't even attempt. It's different if you try and fail.

In that respect at least he tried with his employment (and failed)....but not so with his communication (in US or Pakistan). I've got the impression that Jim was open but Changez remained mute. Ch. didn't even attempt some kind of meta-comunication, perhaps saying: "I do not know what to say". Even that would mean an opening. I am not sure if he is hiding under his burka :smileyvery-happy: or if he is imprisoned there.

Perhaps his culture is both a security and prison to him, unable to discard the one and adopt the other, unable to adapt he doesn't survive. At the same time he represents the cultural elite of his country and if those people give up the 'culture' what is left? Changez seems to be sitting on the shore of misery. Is Lahore an exile to him?

ziki




Yes Ziki I agree with you. Festering problems are always worse and much more deep rooted. Hard to understand what the real problem is anymore. When the problem initially uncovers itself, it is then usually by accident...and when you are dealing with something quite different. How often have you heard people say that they never thought so and so felt the way they did or were that upset. "They were very quiet and polite. And or they never said anything about it." Like who knew. And then there is a big explosion on the part of the individual they are talking about and nobody ever saw it coming.

Maybe Changez was also like that island picture that Erica had. Or maybe Lahore was his purgatory and penance due to his personal self loathing for wanting to succeed at the American dream. Maybe it was like shouting out...see I am one of you after all and I have taken sides..I am here aren't I?

I just know that after reading The Road and then this book. I frankly felt that the ending was a downer. I need a good thriller that doesn't make me think very much.

Message Edited by bentley on 05-13-200711:06 AM

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strindberg

[ Edited ]
Interesting that you brought that up...and lady X skjuter mot Amelie with a play gun at the beginning.

http://runeberg.org/starkare/
http://www.theaterpro.com/Strindberg.html

a bad translation:
http://www.monologuearchive.com/s/strindberg_015.html
a god analysis
http://considerablespeck.blogspot.com/2005/06/review-strindbergs-stronger.html

Message Edited by ziki on 05-13-200706:21 PM

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visit Pakistan

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Re: visit Pakistan


ziki wrote:
"Pakistan takes adventure to the extreme"..... I bet!

http://www.tourism.gov.pk/vpy/index.htm

http://www.tourism.gov.pk/vpy/destination-pakistan2007.htm

hunza expedition must be great!
http://www.tourism.gov.pk/explore_pakistan.html

queenie in Lahore :smileyhappy:
http://www.lahore.gov.pk/highlights/imgs/MianAmer-Elizabeth.jpg




The trip of a lifetime..it might become a new extreme sport..it does look beautiful.

It could become like one of those Mystery Dinner tours. I love adventure but I don't think I could enjoy my tea. :smileyhappy:

What about you Ziki have you made your travel plans yet? It does look exotic and unspoiled.
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Re: (TRF as a Play)

Bentley--

I just wanted to point out that another play with only one character talking existed, not that I thought anyone would produce The Reluctant Fundamentalist for Broadway or even off-Broadway. I am not sure that we, especially NYC, are ready for a play based on this book. I think it is an important book to read, but the reading audience I believe might be different from the theatre audience. That is an interesting question. How different are they? Will people read books about topics that they would not see on stage? Because one is a private act? Anyhow that is way off topic. I thought some of your other questions interesting but I have to find them again first...

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Re: visit Pakistan

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Re: (TRF as a Play)



dianearbus wrote:
Bentley--

I just wanted to point out that another play with only one character talking existed, not that I thought anyone would produce The Reluctant Fundamentalist for Broadway or even off-Broadway. I am not sure that we, especially NYC, are ready for a play based on this book. I think it is an important book to read, but the reading audience I believe might be different from the theatre audience. That is an interesting question. How different are they? Will people read books about topics that they would not see on stage? Because one is a private act? Anyhow that is way off topic. I thought some of your other questions interesting but I have to find them again first...

Lizabeth




Lizabeth,

I agree..many theater goers want to go to Broadway to escape and settle into a fantasy world or a world filled with laughter, or possibly see some serious classic theater..etc. Many are with family and spouses and/or children and they want a reprieve while they are having their night on the town.

I think it might be different when you are by yourself and you pick up a book which might interest you solely on some subject which also could be controversial.

You might select a book for a learning experience or to expose yourself to a new author to see if you like their style of writing and whether they are going to hook you into reading some of their other books..like finding a new hobby or beginning a new vicarious relationship or adventure.

Well we are in the Community Room so that is allowed. When you get a chance would love to hear your thoughts on anything else. I for one have found my new thriller (a Dean Koontz book).

Regards,

Bentley
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Re: visit Pakistan

The mountains look nice but what do mountains know about politics (if I put it so). Where are the caves anyhow? :smileysurprised: :smileysurprised:

The official site presents the country as if it were very friendly. Somewhere it must be
I am just trying to turn it round, thinking in terms like i.e. studying art in Pakistan.....would I be confused like Changez in NY? Most likely. I have to admit I know close to zero about Pakistan. There is a restaurant nearby, people say the food is good but I never went there. Once, but it was closed.:smileyvery-happy: No more of Pakistan for me thus far. Embarassing perhaps.

I am listening to Kite Runner (which is a sad story from Afghanistan) and it is actualy worse to take in the story the second time. I also finished The Saffron Kitchen (Mashhad, Iran) so all of a sudden I have this ethnic-lit-mix in my head. And I stumbled on Kabul Beauty School which I didn't read yet....so....I keep my atlas close by.
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