Thursday, January 10, 2019

#StoriesfromSpiti: Dogs of Spiti


Spiti is known for its majestic landscapes, beautiful people and amazing wildlife. But the one thing that often goes unnoticed or rather, taken for granted by tourists is its canine population. Being a dog lover myself, I planned my first trip to Spiti this March with the intent of spending some quality time with its furry denizens. I spent a few days in Kaza and Chicham to document the lives of stray dogs and their relationship with humans during the winter season.

                                                      A Warm (and Moist) Welcome.

On my first morning in Kaza I walked down to the bazaar where I received a warm welcome from all the strays. They were very curious about my camera, sniffing and licking it all over. Most of the dogs prefer to stay in the bazaar area where they feed on leftovers from restaurants and vegetable stalls. In the winter months they are heavily dependent on humans as food becomes scarce.

                          During consequent walks in Kaza I came across these oddballs:

                                                          The Enlightened One (Below)

                                                              The Old Monk (Below)

                                                       Puppies With an Attitude (Below)

                                                          Sleeping like a hog (Below)

                                                 A Snowball In The Snowstorm (Below)

                                                        All Aboard The Gnaw Train!

                                                              A Handful of Puppers

In a small lane behind the main bazaar I found these four puppies hiding in a makeshift shed. Devraj, a vegetable vendor told me he was personally taking care of them, feeding the mother daily so she has enough milk for them.

                                                        Lunchtime With Mommy (above)

It was heartening to see the locals taking it upon themselves to look after the dogs during the harsh
winter months.

                                                             The Good Samaritans

Although the people of Kaza are quite tolerant and empathetic towards the strays, their growing numbers do have some serious consequences especially during the winter months. When the temperature drops and the snow accumulates, food becomes scarce. This tends to make the dogs violent and attack each other, even the livestock and people. To make sure this doesn't happen, Spiti Ecosphere teamed up with the locals to start a daily feeding program. Donations of Pedigree (dog food) now come all the way from Shimla and are distributed to volunteers. A group of women cook food on Sundays and feed it to the dogs during the week. Sadly, I was unable to meet the women as they were not in Kaza during my stay but I managed to meet a couple other Samaritans.

Mr. Angrup who works at the Kaza Circuit House feeds a bunch of strays that live nearby. It was fun to see the dogs pop out of several nooks and crannies the moment he walked out with a bag of Pedigree.

Another Angrup who works as a cook in Kelsang Kitchen (their Momos are delicious!) keeps aside sheep bones and feeds them to a few dogs in an alley. He told me how they used to be extremely malnourished and aggressive earlier when they had a hard time finding food.

Takpa, who lives in the village of Chicham was my main point of contact for the whole trip. Apart from hosting me in Chicham for several days he also showed me around Kaza on the first day and introduced me to all the right people. This trip wouldn't have been possible without his help.

Takpa was taking care of two dogs in Chicham: Nono and Zikpoh. More on them below.
Ecosphere has also teamed up with the Forest Department and Nature Conservation Foundation to sterilize the strays. The locals help to capture and bring in the strays while a few vets volunteer to operate on them. The dogs are kept under observation for a few days till they fully recover from the operation and then tagged before being released.

                                                        Chilling Out In Chicham.

After spending three days in Kaza I headed off to Chicham in Takpa's car to search for Snow Leopards (that's another story). The first day was spent taking a long walk with the handsome duo Nono and Zikpoh.

                                     This is Nono. He loves basking in the sun all day long (below)

                       This is Zikpoh. He loves rolling in the snow and barking at the Yaks (below)

Walking down to Chicham Bridge with the boys. We had a small standoff with a band of strays that looked like they had become feral. This is a growing problem in Spiti as feral dogs can have a negative impact on the wildlife of the area.

Zikpoh (below) found a sheep carcass and got busy gnawing it while Nono (above) went around marking his territory.

                                                                 Puppy Patrons (below)

One day I met these kids who were going to build a shelter for some newly born puppies just outside the village. I joined them on their quest while they performed some antics for the camera.

                      Building a cozy tent to keep away the harsh sun and cold, piercing winds...

                                                                     ...and it's ready!

Bhuyang (below) a traveller from Delhi who was staying in Chicham decided to adopt a puppy and take it home. Here he is posing with the little bundle of joy during a snowfall.

                                                                 Saying Goodbye.

I stayed in Spiti for almost two weeks and it still felt like I was just scratching the surface of this place. I was spellbound by the bond that exists between the people and the canines. Yes there are problems to be solved but everywhere in Spiti I saw the communities coming together to find the most inclusive and humane solutions, with Ishita and her Ecosphere team being the catalysts. This trip felt like the beginning of a long relationship with Spiti, its people and its crazy canines.

Article Contributed by Sarang Naik, you can follow him on Facebook -

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#StoriesfromSpiti: The boy in the blue sweater.

Why has it snowed less this year? Where does the ‘cheetah’ live? Where does devil eat? Why are foreigners so white? Where can one find rabbit holes and wolf caves? Why are the mountains so tall? Why is sunlight yellow in colour? Why are the Bingo Mad Angles crisps so costly in Spiti?

 (This guy knows the answer to all the questions asked above :) )

Mohan a.k.a Jaggu is one of the prolific guides who work with Ecosphere through the summers. The workload is so heavy in the summers that he seldom gets time to go home. He goes home only on special occasions and when lady luck showers her blessings on him in form of volunteer groups which have Demul on their itineraries. On one such lucky day, Jaggu came to Demul, his home with a group which was working in Chicham. He recognized me instantly and the next thing I know we’re sipping tea and discussing the progress of the greenhouse being built in Chicham by the group he was leading. As we parted ways, he invited me for a dinner of my favourite Potato momos at his house to which I happily agreed.

In the evening, I was at his door even before time. I called out to him “Jaggu daaas!!” No reply came. Then I called out his name again. Suddenly, two curious eyes popped out of kitchen window and then vanished again. I called out “oye”. This time, the whole face came up with a wide smile etched across it. That is how I first met Tenzin Norbu.  After that evening we became an inseparable lot until my last day in Demul.

For the next few days, clad in his favourite blue sweater and adorning his characteristic smile styled across the crimson cheeks, Norbu accompanied me everywhere I went except in my birding forays. He would have loved to go birding with me too but his mother refused every time for all the right reasons because the boy claimed that one of his aunt knew the location of a wolf den and he knew the way to it. Surely a worrying prospect for any mother. So we didn’t dwell outside the village together but inside the village, wherever I went, Norbu could be seen filtering around me.

(Nawang Tanpa and Norbu in a single frame! That’s a lethal combo!)

On the first day of our friendship, he brought me a dead caterpillar and declared it to be a baby snake. On the second daym he taught me how to avoid rams high on hormones. On the third day, we talked about our respective nonexistent girlfriends and how Nawang Tanpa, the “konsi class mei hai?” guy whom I thought to be the most innocent guy in Demul, terrorized kids even senior to him by throwing pebbles at them(I tried confirming the same with Nawang, but like always he wouldn’t answer any question except.. J ) On the fourth day, he showed me a bird which turned out to be a new bird for me and we watched glimpses of a superhero movie he’d never seen before.

The fifth day was the best day. All the ladies from the village and a few men were going up to the highland meadows above Demul called Yulsa to be a part of a pooja ceremony. This meant, we both could finally go out of the village together. That morning, Norbu came into my room beaming with enthusiasm clad in a neat blue and white shirt, new pants, new sandals and of course his favourite blue sweater while I was still trying to find something clean to wear. We were already late so I just put on whatever I could get my hands on. Norbu, me, his mother and another lady started for Yulsa after most of the ladies had already left. Half a later, like always, I was barely crawling up while Norbu was literally running up jollily.

(Here Norbu pretends to be the saviour of two ladies who have got stuck at the edge of a cliff, the two ladies being his mother on the left and aunt on the right.)

Every now and then, he would wait for me to catch up with him and point out a bird and ask its name. He was particularly intrigued, when I clicked and showed him a picture of a bird called horned lark. After some discussion, it was settled that the horned larks were churus (cows) of the bird-world. The ladies found the churu of the bird world quite interesting too. Further up, we took a sudden detour much to his mother’s worry and reached a patch next to a barley field which had a lot of holes. He said the holes were “khargosh ka ghosla”(rabbit holes).

So we waited silently for about 15min in hope that a rabbit would peep out eventually. But that didn’t happen. So we quickly got back on the track where his mother and the other lady were waiting for us. We picked up clumps of sweet edible grass that grows in the highland meadows and continued on our journey stopping intermittently for the birds and rest. His stories didn’t end until we finally reached Yulsa. He showed me a colony of a thorny plant growing along hillsides on the way and proclaimed them to be devil’s food to which his mother concurred thoughtfully. He also told me about a small pool where people from the village go up to bathe on hot days like the one where we dealing with that day and somehow we finally made it to Yulsa. What happened at Yulsa that day is another story.

(Norbu had been constantly nagging me to teach him how to use a camera for days, so at Yulsa, I taught him the basics of focusing and clicking a picture and gave him the camera to operate it all by himself. This is what the boy in blue sweater did with it. That’s his mum. This picture is one of my favourites from Spiti.) 

The next day was spent frolicking around the village and talking to the ladies working in the fields. We also discussed the reason behind the inflated prices of lays and bingo mad angles. We concluded it must have something to do with the air inside crisps packs and the transportation may play some role too.

(In the fields...trying not to ruin the hard work done by ladies :p )

(And, a lesson on how to life yak calves by the world renowned  yak lifter; Norbu kaka :) )

On my last day in Demul, we finished the unfinished tasks. He had brought in his cousin sister to assist us in the work. So we all sat down together and watched Captain America: The civil war, The Amazing Spiderman and and  THE CONJURING in one go. Needless to say, we screamed our lungs out during Conjuring while Amma and Norbu’s mom sitting in the next room wondered what was wrong with us. We decided to stay in my room that night but the adults weren’t going have it our way. So we bid quiet farewell instead of proceeding with our full night movie marathon. 

(As we were wondering how god bought colours for his paintings.. )

No worries, though. Four days later, I was back in Demul for a day.

I met him and casually proposed that we go to Mulchay and see the family of red foxes that lives there. He just ran off suddenly and came back after fifteen minutes wearing a new set of clothes and shoes and announced that he was ready for the foxes.  Obviously we didn’t go but his mother went all the way to Mulchay looking for him because apparently he had just told her that he was going to see red foxes and ran off. We somehow managed to escape the scolding when she found that we didn’t actually go. Phew.

 (I solemnly swear we were up to no good ;) )

And like always, we spent the rest of the day looking for other jobs to do. Psst, we also broke into a locked greenhouse via the  window. Please don’t tell this to anyone when you go to Demul. Especially Norbu’s mum. Thanks ! :P

Monday, April 17, 2017

#StoriesfromSpiti: Lessons from the La

 (Tenzin Takpa offering his prayers before the pooja)

The atmosphere was electric. A chilling silence had spread across the dimensions of the balcony we were all sitting in. The ladies who were busy buzzing with each other moments earlier had become quiet. Even the cacophonous kids had cleaned up their act. Tenzin Takpa, the village coordinator sat ahead facing me across the Chokse table carved with intricate designs and creatures. He was wearing special robes, his eyes were shut in utmost concentration and his hands are placed firmly around a special vessel made of silver containing Arrack, the local alcohol.

And then suddenly, the air was adrift with the reverberation of the flute, cymbals and the drums. It had begun. Tenzin Takpa started shaking vigorously. His teeth were clattering, the eyes were twitching but were still shut and the hands were still fast around the vessel. Slowly, he raised the vessel and took a sip of Arrack from it and quickly hid behind a colourful veil offered to him. This music which was difficult to comprehend still played.

When he let the veil fall, his eyes were wide open but what looked out of them were only their whites. His irises were gone behind his head. Still trembling, He began murmuring steadily into the ear of the man sitting next to him. Everyone sat there holding their breath.

(Behind the veil.. as men sprinkle red barley grains as the devta descends into the body of the La..)

“What has happened to Tenzin Takpa?” I asked the man sitting next time. “The Devta has gotten into him, he’s not—“  our conversation was broken as the music came to an abrupt end. 

 (And the La comes to life..)

The Devta had begun talking to everyone now. Though it was visible that only a few people understood what he was saying, but it was clear that the Devta was not pleased. His voice was husky, but clear and loud and he was pointing fingers at the people around him while they bowed their heads down or clasped their hands together in submission. Every once in a while he stomped his hand on the Chokse table in visible anger and took a sip of Arrack from his vessel.  After about fifteen minutes of ranting, the Devta mellowed his voice down and began murmuring into the ears of the same man again.

And suddenly, the music was back in the air. The Devta had closed his eyes again; the silver vessel was back on chokse with his hands wound around it. He began shuddering again, the expression on his face changing with every note of music and then all of a sudden, he swished his hands into the air and opened his eyes. His irises were back. Tenzin Takpa was back. He looked around inquisitively, then got up, undid the robes and went outside as if nothing had happened. Everybody on the balcony began to relax. The ceremony was almost over. 

The man who was sitting next to the Tenzin Takpa through the ceremony got up and started talking to the people around. He looked like he was translating what the Devta had said moments before. The people most of whom were ladies listened to him attentively.  As he finished with his translation, one of the ladies got up and put forth an argument which was passionately scrutinized and debated upon. Finally, when everything was settled, tea was served and everyone got back to their chattering and kids resumed their cacophonies.  The Devta Pooja was over for the day. 

(The La expresses his dismay to the villagers..)

The fact that Demul Devta was upset with people was not hidden from anyone in Demul, not even from outsiders like me. I had come to know that every village in Spiti has its Devta(s); local deities who reside in the various Langs or temples in the village and they have resided in these temples even before the advent of Buddhism in the valley. It is believed that the Devtas watch over the villages and people. It’s the Devtas who bring good snow, rains, ensure good harvest and cure people who are ill or spiritually lost. The Devtas also guide people regarding how they should live their lives. It’s also believed that the Devtas are very temperamental and expect constant appeasement and devotion from their subjects; the village people. The Devta Pooja is held every month wherein, The Devtas descend into the village and manifest themselves in human form by possessing a chosen person who is called the La. Tenzin Takpa is Demul’s La and he will remain so until his death. The La when possessed starts speaking in a language in Bhoti, an ancient Tibetan language which he doesn’t know or understand otherwise. The person who sits next to him through the ceremony is well versed in Bhoti and thus acts an interpreter and translator for the Devta

The ceremony that had taken place that morning was actually supposed to take place in the evening before but at the last moment, it was declared that the Devta was upset.  One of the elder women told me that the Devta was upset because the villagers didn’t pay attention when he declared his arrival. Ignorance was a pretty serious offence in the eyes of the Devta. 

It is still not clear to me how the villagers appeased him for the ceremony next day but He didn’t shy away from expressing his dismay in front of the people. The reverence that He holds among the villagers was evident in their submission to His preaching which most of them didn’t even understand initially.  

I’ve never been a firm believer of these rituals. The supernatural had never appealed to me before that day. This half an hour ceremony changed everything. It didn’t turn me into a believer, but witnessing the whole thing left me enchanted and I learnt that there are many things beyond our personal and interpersonal understandings and one does not need to believe in things and ideas to respect them. The devotion and regret that the villagers displayed at the La’s sermon and his dismay had something very powerful about it and later on when I learnt the reason behind the Devta’s dismay left me spellbound. 

(Here’s the La is being felicitated by the interpreter/translator. The silver vessel containing Arrack, the smaller vessel containing Yak butter and the peacock feathers are the special offerings offered by the villagers)

The Devta is worshipped as the one who guides people when they lose their way and according to him, they had indeed lost their way when they allowed vices like jealously and ignorance seep into their lives. He reminded the people that it has been togetherness that has guided me through thick and thin in this land. He asked them how they could let jealously of material things like money and possessions threaten this togetherness. He also reminded them that no material possession can ever replace the bonds made and deepened over Arrack and Chaccha(Spitian butter tea).

(Arrack is an essential offering. :))

I confirmed it with two people in the village and immediately felt subtly humbled.

The monthly ceremony continued for the next three days and on the second day, even the Langza Devta arrived. Langza actually means Abode of gods, and the Langza Devta is worshipped as the supreme healer in the villages. I was there at almost all the poojas and also had my sins purified at one occasion. 

I still can’t say exactly if I believe in the La and this tradition. Sometimes when I remember those transient eyes emanating only the whites looking into my own, I feel that they could look right inside me and it still gives me chills when I think of those moments and sometimes I stupidly try scaling it with logical. But I know one thing for sure now and that is I deeply respect this ancient tradition and the belief that people have in this system. And if a system helps people contemplate, introspect and shed a poisonous malice like jealousy, I believe there can be nothing better for a society. :)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

#StoriesfromSpiti: Shepherding in Paradise

(It begins..)

At 9am every day, the village of Demul stands witness to a special commotion. The clatter of soft bells marks its beginning. Then the dust begins to rise and the earth quivers as mobs of horns and hooves begin to pour out of every home. The air resonates with the sounds of them mooing, bleating and bawling. The mob slowly moves forward as members continue their bellowing and new groups keep assimilating into the larger herd as they progress through the narrow streets of the village.

One fine day, I decided to join them on their daily sojourn to the highland meadows. I was very excited at the prospect of being a shepherd for a day. It had been a childhood dream for me to walk the high hills with a long stick in my hand and a thousand livestock animals ahead of me. Finally the day had come. I had been waiting for the mob to show up and like always at 9am, the streets began to come to life and I quickly joined the group. As we were passing, the villagers came in with their animals and suddenly one of the elderly men handed me a long stick, patted my back and said “Kisi ko khone mat dena”. I was elated beyond measure. It was like being christened a warrior by the king. I was good to go!

(The mythical Yak Devta of Demul enters regally.)

In our party, we had churus( a local species of domestic cows adept at surviving in the harsher conditions of these areas), calves, yaks, sheep and their lambs and a few goats. We also had menacing donkeys that kept fighting with each other. Walking behind the animals was like walking through a dust storm and I was regretting not bringing my face mask with me. 

 (Onwards, we trod, as we step out of Demul onto the highlands..)

I met the three men who were going to be my comrades on this mission. They welcomed me heartily and asked me I was feeling okay. I smiled and said “all good to go, boss!”. Soon we got out of the dusty lanes of the village and began the intimidating ascent to the meadows. I had walked much so much since coming to Spiti and yet it didn’t seem to add up and every time was like the first time; ten steps, out of breath, ten steps, out of breath.  I managed to keep walking somehow out of the fear of slowing the whole group down and after forty five minutes of toiling hard we finally stepped on the flat meadows. 

It was worth it as undulating hills gave way to large meadows full of green grass set against the glistening blue sky dotted with puffy clouds. It was like a dream. 

 (And we enter into the vast meadows..)

(This is what the heaven must look like)

There’s a definitive system of shepherding in the villages of Spiti. In Demul for instance, two local men are chosen every evening in an orderly fashion to join Mr. Naveen Kumar, who is the head shepherd. He is called the Lugzi locally which means shepherd in the local language. It was pleasantly surprising to hear that Mr Naveen who originally hails from Nepal has been coming to Demul for the past seven years to perform his duty as the head shepherd of the village.

(Naveen Kumar shows me his kingdom as his faithful subjects carry on with their daily work in the back ground)

Mr Naveen has a very enticing personality. He carries a calmness around him which is both intriguing and comforting at the same time. He is, you can say, a professional shepherd who can tell you the possible movement of the herd just by looking at them closely. He instructs the men coming with him to move into various directions in order to keep the herd together.  He carries a heavy lasso rope which when he swings and swipes, cattle turn back even when they are hundred metres apart.  Even the menacing donkeys are afraid of his lasso. 

 Naveen bhaiya is respected deeply by the villagers for the job he does and the person he is and it was evident by the ardency with which Angdui bhaiya and Chhuldim dada, the local shepherd for the day were following his instructions. 

 We spent about an hour in preventing the animals from straying away from meadows and essentially running back to the village. It was a tiring task as cows kept running higher up on the mountains and sometimes out of sight and sheep kept following them foolishly. At one moment, Mr Naveen hurriedly rushed downhill and came back 10 minutes later with four cows that tried running back to the village. While I stupidly tried redirecting the sheep running behind the hills by running after them screaming ‘hee-haah’, It took only one swing out of Naveen bhaiyas’ lasso to do the work. 

After the animals finally got busy grazing, We gathered near a small dilapidated rock hut. Angdui drew out a sooty saucepan from the hut and Chhuldim kaka went about and returned with some dry bushes to start a fire. It was then I realized why all of the three men were carrying bags. Fooood!

(Collecting dry twigs and bushes for making tea )

Angdui opened up his bag and took out a lunch box containing loafs of tirik and cooked spinach. He’s had also brought along chutney! Chhuldim kaka opened up his bag to produce a tea bag set( that too Taj Mahal!), a box containing sugar and a bottle of milk. In about twenty minutes, the tea was ready! Everybody peeped into their bags and withdrew a glass each. I just looked stupidly into my bag half expecting to find a glass. Haha. I shared the glass with Angdui. All of us started chatting with tea and sumptuous combo of tirik and spinach. I curiously asked ‘what do we do next? To which Naveen bhaiya replied ‘We just straighten naughty cows and do this again! And again! It’s a good life’. All of us laughed wildly at this. 

(Of conversations made while waiting for tea to be ready..)

(The little pleasures of little life..sipping tea at 4400m above sea level with best people for company!)

After some hearty breakfast and conversations, it was time to get back to work. Angdui worked his way up for the higher grounds. Naveen bhaiya had a feeling that some sheep and cows had traced their way back in the direction from which we entered the meadows, so he went that way while I held guard around sheep on the flat meadows around us with Chhuldim kaka. 

Herding the livestock is very exciting at first; the animals pay special attention to you because you are an outsider and you look weird but after some time they become accustomed to your presence and don’t give a rat’s ass to your gimmicks and hee-hahs. It’s fun nonetheless. 

After some time, we gathered again for another round of tea and tirik.  It was 1:30pm and the sun shone brightly above with no clouds to provide respite from its heat. After tea, it was time for me to go. There was going to be a pooja in the village and the coordinator, Tenzin Takpa had invited me to be a part of it as a spectator to which I had happily said yes. I felt sad at not staying until the end that is until 5pm, when we would have grouped all the animals together. As I bid bye to the men, I promised Naveen that one day I would come back for the full day, although I didn’t fulfil the promise in the coming days. I hope to do that next time. 

(Walk with me on these pathless ways..)

Shepherding in the highlands meadows seems like one of the best jobs in the world and in many ways it truly is. The feelings that you experience as you walk through unchanging landscapes painted in suave earthen colours and blue skies, with wind caressing your skin and birds leading your way into the vast meadows can’t be described in mere words. No photograph can portray the true scale of the beauty and the vastness. You have to be there to experience it.

(The watchful gaze)

But it has its own challenges. It’s not so easy to keep track of all the animals under your watch and time and again, churus and sheep stray away to farther lands and must be ushered back to safety. Sometimes, they even get lost for days and get preyed upon by predators like snow leopards and wolves (during early summers). In recent times, stray dogs have moved out of villages due to lack of food and become wild and readily hunt down sheep in large numbers when they come across strayed individuals or an unprotected herd. Sometimes, while moving through narrow areas beside cliffs, sheep and lambs fall to their death accidentally. So the Lugzis’ job has to be always alert to avoid any unfavourable circumstances. They also have to mediate herd’s movement through narrow areas and ensure that the entire herd stays together.

One of the Ecosphere’s great initiatives in the highland villages is to be support the herding practises among the villagers and lugzis. So as part of this initiative, Naveen Kumar is paid 14000rs annually by Ecosphere in addition to money paid by the villagers. It’s a very healthy exchange. Over the years, Naveen bhaiya has been coming back to Demul and other villages around the area and his expertise in shepherding has helped local men get a better grip at the whole process which is by no standard easy!

 (Chhuldim kaka has the most contagious laugh and the best sense of humour in Demul!)

(The shepherd don’t carry water bottles with them because mother nature has always has water for those are thirsty in her various pristine mountain streams!)

 (This one time, I was hiking around the highlands in Demul following a herd of blue sheep. While I returning to the village at sundown, I ran into a small group of churus and sheep which looked lost. I thought they must have got separated from the Demul group while coming back and people must have been looking for them. This was it. This was my chance of use the shepherding skills I had learnt on my sojourn to the meadows, so I began ushering them back to the village and was doing a pretty good job. We had just travelled some distance when a teenage girl came running from the village of Mulchay which was on other side of the highlands. It turned out that this group actually belonged to Mulchay and it was actually taking them in the wrong direction. I readily apologized for the mistake and made my way to Demul. I couldn’t stop laughing throughout the way back.)

So, when you go to Demul or any village, do try your hands at shepherding with the locals. Look out for Naveen bhaiya and join him next day! You’ll not regret it and he’ll have another comrade to assist him in straightening the naughty Churus. :D