Speck on the Canvas

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I pretend that I am someone

Because if I don’t pretend

I may not even exist

My being altogether shall end

 

I am a dot in a cosmic infinite

On a paint splattered canvas I may seem small

But I am another world in my own galaxy

Not quite nothing after all

 

A planet spinning on an axis its own

Dictated by my time of day

Into the ball of fire I have flown

Singed horribly along the way

 

In my eyes, I am a fallen hero

Reliving the glory in retrospect

But to everyone else, I sigh

I am nothing but a speck

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Ed Sheeran is the ONE

Sheeran is back with a melodic bang with his latest track off his yet-to be-released album Multiply called ‘One’. Sounding like his usual style, Ed has done it again, ladies and gentlemen. So for any of you who were worried about his sound changing, don’t be. He’ll always be the Ed Sheeran who can cast a spell with his voice alone.

Listen to’One’ right here!

Creativity is Contagious…so is Plagiarism.

While on the verge of a great inventive break-through, step back a second and make sure it’s really yours and not influenced by something you may have heard, read, seen or what not.

Sometimes parallels drawn between your work and that of another’s can hurt your credentials and make it easy for others to label it as a copy. Other times it goes on anyway.

It’s the battle of the original and the duplicate:

Friends vs. How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM)

Both sitcoms enjoyed a long run on in the air but the ends of these series were the real difference and complete opposites with the Friends finale ranked #4 on highest-viewed finales in TV history and then there’s HIMYM’s which would get the top slot in disappointing viewers. Take a look at some of the similarities between the two:

  • Both groups of friends sit around all day at their favourite hang out and drink( be it coffee or beer), the only difference being that in Friends it’s a coffee house and in HIMYM it’s a bar.
  • Just like no one knows Chandler’s profession, no one knows Barney’s either.
  • While Joey is the suave ladies man on Friends, Barney is HIMYM’s more exaggerated and far-fetched equivalent who borders on sociopathic womanising pig.
  • The will-they-or-won’t-they curiosity revolving around Ross and Rachel’s relationship is taken to a whole new level with Ted Mosby and Robin Sherbatsky, to the point where no one could take it seriously any more.

Who wins: Friends

Fifty Shades of Grey vs. Bared to You

Although both books are a travesty of their own in terms of story structure and plot, they are undeniably effective as the paperback equivalent of porno movies. However, the two books seem quite similar and Sylvia Day, the author of Bared to You even thanked E.L James for creating a market for erotic novels today. No wonder they’re so similar:

  • Both female protagonists, Anastasia and Eva, cannot stop describing how gorgeous their male counterpart is, then get frustrated that they are so smitten but once again start describing the man like a Greek god.
  • Both supposed Greek gods, Christian and Gideon, are wealthy beyond belief, head their own powerful companies and strut around like boy toys in Armani suits, oozing sex appeal.
  • Eva and Ana have attractive room mates except Eva’s is her bisexual friend Cary.
  • Sex, sex, sex. So much of it that it seems unappealing and blase once the same descriptions are overused every few pages.

Who wins: Fifty Shades of Grey

Who’s the Boss vs. Melissa and Joey

This is by far the worst of the lot. These two shows are decades apart but the similarities are so blatant that it can’t be helped!

  • A successful woman hires a male housekeeper/nanny. How often does that happen? Apparently twice on TV sitcoms. Angela Bower, an ad exec, hires Tony Macelli as her housekeeper while council woman Mel Burke hires unemployed Joe Longo as a nanny.
  • There’s subtle chemistry between Tony and Angela the way it exists between Mel and Joe.
  • There are two kids in the middle of this weird living situation. In Who’s the Boss they’re Angela’s son and Tony’s daughter while in Melissa and Joey the children are Mel’s nephew and niece.

Who wins: Who’s the Boss

Study at Hogwarts NOW!

Schools and colleges will soon be done for the year but Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is keeping the magic live this summer online at http://www.hogwartsishere.com, created and run by fans!

From fiction to virtual reality, Harry Potter fans can now enrol at Hogwarts, purchase their textbooks at Diagon Alley and take their favourite courses like Defence Against the Dark Arts and Potions- all at the click of their mouse!

Transforming fans to fellow Ravenclaws or Hufflepuffs, this virtual experience has been created by the fandom, some very dedicated fans taking it up themselves to design course plans and enact as subject professors at the academy.

Excited about the concept, Anne says, “It’s every HP fan’s dream to attend Hogwarts and the fact that the site is run by fans makes it better since they understand how important it is to Potterheads!”

Each first year course is spread out over 9 weeks and if you thought it was all fun and games like Pottermore, think again! College student Jake voiced his opinion saying, “ I was expecting Harry Potter trivia when I discovered the site but found, surprisingly, very-serious-about-their-jobs professors and really detailed magical text books to study from. I feel like I’m taking an online course and it’s fantastic!” Hogwartsishere.com is very serious about academics with each lesson being accompanied by quizzes, essays and exams and the better you do, the more points you score, not to mention the galleons that’ll be deposited into your Gringotts vault based on your academic performance!

While registering online you do have the option to choose your house as it appears that the Sorting Hat is out of sorts about the online experience. Gryffindor has been the most popular choice of course but if you want to know which house you’re truly meant to be in, try taking this Sorting Quiz that sorts you based on your personality here: http://www.personalitylab.org/tests/ccq_hogwarts.htm

Once you’re done enrolling, an owl will promptly deliver your acceptance letter and voila! You’re an official student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

What Each FRIENDS Character Teaches Us

It’s been 10 years since one of the best and highest-rated sitcoms signed off the air and FRIENDS still teaches us life lessons with a laugh even to this day. Here are some things you can take away from your favourite Central Perk regulars:

Rachel 

rachel

In the pilot, we see Rachel as a rich-damsel-in- distress, running out on her own wedding. Since that day, she made a real turn-around from a daddy’s girl to a self-sufficient and independent woman. If anything, Rachel is an example of how getting out of your comfort zone can be the best thing you ever do! She shows us that working up the ladder has its ups and downs but in the end you’ll get there. Unlike the instant-coffee Rachel used to serve (or pretend to serve) in the coffee house, there’s no such thing as instant-success! Rachel is also one of those friends who’s a mixture of opposites-confident yet unsure, supportive yet judgy, sexy yet inhibited- and that’s okay! Having a rainbow of qualities doesn’t make you bipolar.

Monica

ironchefmonicaMonica really seems to live bya friend in need is a friend in deed’ when she takes Rachel in despite having lost touch with her since high school. No matter what happens, it always pays to be kind! Competition, as Mon demonstrates can be taken too far and it’s not too much fun for everyone else so tone it down if you happen to share this quality with Ross’ little sister. Remember when she took the ball game with Joey and Ross to a whole new level of annoying? Yeah, that’s what’ll happen. Yet the life lesson you can take away from Monica Geller is that organisation and planning is very important! Maybe not to the extent that her neuroses go to but it is.

Phoebe

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One of the quirkiest characters on TV, Phoebe shows us that you don’t have to be good at something to go ahead and try it anyway, so long as you enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. Just take a look at her attitude when she’s playing her guitar at the coffee house or even when Monica insults her inability to sing in tune! Innocent in more ways than one, she shows us that it’s okay to release your inner child and relish it even. Remember that time when she ran around in Central Park like a crazy person, embarrassing Rachel! And be open minded-creativity knows no bounds and apparently neither does Phoebes. Her awesomely weird doll house is a testament to that! Most of all, Phoebe is perfectly comfortable with herself-flaws included- and calls it like it is. That’s a great quality to have when everyone else is too preoccupied with pretending.

p.s Vegetarians are cool.

Joey

joey

Initially, the writers hadn’t meant for Joey to be dim but Matt LeBlanc brought so much heart to the character that it just felt right. So what if you’re not the brightest bulb around, that shouldn’t define who you are! Joey still gets around (although Chandler played a huge hand in that). Speaking of his room mate, Joey never fails to initiate great bromance moments. I don’t know how many times he’s hugged Chandler, something most guys don’t like to do.  Yet perhaps, one of the greatest lessons that Joey can teach us is that food is the most important thing of all! Remember when his little sister Dina tried to calm him down with a sandwich when she broke the news of her pregnancy!

Chandler

64.-Chandler-Bing-–-Friends

Like Monica, Chandler is a supportive room mate and friend to Joey (maybe that’s another reason why they’re perfect together) and has no underlying bitterness. Money doesn’t have to be a stand still between friends if you’ve got Chandler’s attitude about it! And if you hate your job (or even if no one know what you do for a living) go ahead and find something else that you love! Chandler worked as an intern at an advertising agency in his 30’s, starting all the way from the bottom in a completely different career. That takes some real guts, something we should all have. And let’s not forget how he exemplifies dry humour and sarcasm as an effective shield. How else would he have gotten through his old tedious job as a transponder (as Rachel called it)!

p.s It is possible to get out of the friends zone. And raise twins.

Ross

RossGellerFriends413Ross is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the geekiest character on the show and that’s why we love him. The way he talks about dinosaurs as if they were still roaming the earth is hilarious yet exactly how we should talk about something we care about. Don’t wear a geek t-shirt to be cool because true geeks don’t need them. Also, your failed relationships (or in Ross’ case, marriages) aren’t a testament to your character. It’s not your fault if your ex-wife’s sexuality changes while you’re still married to her, right? And if you really want something to happen, make it. Even if it took a while, Ross did end up with Rachel. Oh and don’t forget when he tried bribing Ugly Naked Guy with a basket of mini muffins and spent some naked time with him  to get his apartment!

***Take a look at how the writers initially described each of them before the show was in production (and they really stuck to it, huh?):tumblr_m8t78id8kL1qf28p4o1_500

 

What your Freshman Year Will Teach You about College Life

College is a new world and there isn’t any sight of Aladdin to show you around on a savvy magic carpet. It can be confusing but let me tell you, that is nothing compared to the feeling of being in charge of your own life. And that’s what college gives you. Not just grades and assignments but experience.

Here are some pointers for the fresh batch of freshmen:

  • For once, you’ve got a monthly or maybe weekly budget to live on and at first it may seem intoxicating to have so much money on hand but be wise! Many of my friends have spent far too much on smokes and alcohol than food and basic necessities.
  • Is eating junk food everyday a lifelong dream of yours? Think again. With so much McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell comes what I can only call junk food saturation- the point where your taste buds can no longer process the same old Macs and popcorn chicken. It’s natural for college kids to go out for lunch and dinner instead of eating on campus but after a while I found myself missing out on my mom’s home made meals!mcd
  • Going to college is a lesson in itself of how many different kinds of people walk this diverse planet. From the micro society of high school comes the macro scale of university, opportunities and social connections rising in scale.
  • Your social life can take a real dive if you let that happen and it certainly might. What with deadlines, exams and extra courses it can be difficult to make time to go out for a drink or to a party even. Space things out and make sure you don’t cram college coursework in at the end of the semester, making your friends wonder what rock you’ve gone to live under. Relax.
  • Laundry is a pain the ass. Enough said.

Sharpen your skills with a 30 Day Writing Challenge!

Typewrite your way out of it
Type-write your way out of it

If you want to hone your skills as a writer but suffer from the ever-cloying writers block, then a 30 day writing challenge may be just what you need. The aim of these challenges are to provide some structured spontaneity to your writing as well as make you write on a regular basis. What may start out as a penning exercise may actually turn out to be productive and inventive in its own right!

I’ll be starting this writing challenge later on in May but you could try it out right NOW. It starts out with 30 simple words:

beginning. winter. accusation. restless.snowflake. haze. flame. formal. companion. move. silver. prepared. knowledge. denial. wind. order. thanks. look. summer. transformation. tremble. sunset. mad. thousand. outside. diamond. letters. promise. simple. future.

Write a poem, a short story or a novel with 30 chapters using these words as guidelines. Don’t take them literally, be as creative with your interpretation as possible! In the end, those 30 little words should be a work of art.

Kids and Lit

Antoine de Saint Exupéry once wrote in Le Petit Prince, “All grown-ups were once children…but only few of them remember it.” Well I’m one of those lucky few. (Not that I’m a grown up per say.)

 When I was a child I was fluent in a special language (one of my favourites to this day) called GOBBLEFUNK, the brain child of Roald Dahl. Dahl loved to twist and turn the English language to create strange and interesting words which he used in his writing.

So I can easily say I svolloped (destroyed) all of Roald Dahl’s books, reading them over and over, till my copies no longer resembled their pristine form. I lived in the world he created, full of oompa-loompas, vermicious knids, time twiddlers and blabbersnitches. I remember sitting up late in my bed, hiding under the sheets using a flashlight to read the BFG and George’s Marvelous Medicine way past my bed time, my gogglers (eyes) unable to be pried away from the pages. Then I went to sleep and had ringbellers (excellent dreams) about phizzwhizzle and whizzpopping. Who would ever want to wake up? Not me, that’s for certain.

Except as the years go by, the shelves pile up with bigger books with much bigger words and one day I did wake up….

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

There goes the sound of my alarm, waking me up after living in the land of dreams. And then I look around myself and think, “Oh no! I’m living in the ADULT WORLD!” It’s a scary place where all we do is splatch-wink (rush around in a hurry) without realising why we’re splatch-winking. What’s my first thought? I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!

So what do I do?

Head for the time machine, that’s what.

Master of the Time Machine

There is a time machine I know of

Without buttons and gears as such

It presents a world of wonder

A world I wish to visit

Oh so very much

 Some adults refuse to leave the land of childhood and those are the best kind. If I had to pick one children’s author to call my favourite it would most definitely be Roald Dahl. Despite the fact that he was a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force and having seen the worst, he could still come back from the anarchy of war and write books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (now also a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp), The Twits, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox and many others. Dahl had his own writing hut where the all the magic happened and I can safely say that it was from this very hut that the essence of my childhood was captured and cultivated from.

Reading Roald Dahl as a child is a way of living in the present. But reading Roald Dahl at the age of eighteen is way of revisiting the past. Forget the gadgetry and automated notions of time machines. If you’ve got a Roald Dahl book in your hand, you’re all set to take a trip down memory lane.

So I’m right here about to get a ticket to my childhood. There’s only one problem… I always get asked the same old pesky question. “Why don’t you grow up?”

To which I reply with the same old answer…

“Why should I?”

The Scrumdiddlyumptious Art of Writing for Children

Never tell me it’s immature to read children’s books at this age. I’ll read them even when I’m in my eighties.

 The fact is that children literature is the foundation upon which young readers catapult themselves into the depths of adult novels and other forms of literature. If I had never read my first book, Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, I may never have discovered my passion for reading and writing. From Dr. Seuss’ picture books to Roald Dahl’s chapter books, the transition starts.

Children literature is widely underappreciated, not being given its due importance. And that’s just buggles (absolutely crazy). We grow up and forget about the books that made us who we are today and it’s a shame.

Many are under the illusion that just about anyone can write a novel for kids. In fact, they could not be more wrong. It is far more difficult to write a book catering to children than one catering to people your own age. Just try it. I dare you.

Write a story for children in not more than a couple of hundred words. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

george

Here’s the gist of what needs to be considered when writing for kids:

  • Strip back the decadent language. This isn’t the place to use studies for affectation or ornament.
  • Brevity is key and hence one must learn to pick and choose the right and best words to narrate the tale.
  • The sentence structure and vocabulary should appeal to young readers and must be written in such a way that kids can understand it. Otherwise it’s all moot.
  • Write in such a manner so as to foster a sense of anticipation in the child. Make them cry, “Mommy what happens next?” when their mothers read it to them at bedtime.
  • Lastly, use evocative and rich words that paint a picture in the child’s mind, sparking their imagination. Imagery is essential, after all.

Not quite so easy is it? Yet Roald Dahl makes it sound like a piece of cake when he said, “You can write about anything for children as long as you’ve got humour.”

To write a book for children, you’ll have to be twice as creative and more than half mad. It’s all about pushing boundaries and maybe eliminating them altogether. Anyone can write about the real world, simply because we live, eat and breathe in it. It takes a whole lot more talent to create your own world where reason is an outcast and write about it.

So never under estimate the power of a children’s author. You never know what’s going on in their head. That’s the beauty of it.

And the only way to experience the author’s world is getting into the time machine. So I take one step forward and what do you know…I’m inside.

The Arranged Marriage between Pictures and Words

The time machine starts off with a clap and a bang and soon enough I’m whizzing off to the 90’s. There are all sorts of images outside the windows, flitting past.

Let me start off by asking if you are one of those people who picture everything you read in your head, making your own mental movie out of the book. Well illustrations help the kids out with that.

Yet make no mistake, they’re not merely there to make the book more goggler-catching. Pictures happen to contribute to the multi-sensory experience of reading.

Once an imaginative world has been conceptualised, the author makes strenuous effort to distill and condense while the illustrator takes equal pains to expand, translate the words into pictures, conveying exactly what the author intends.

The relation between an author and an illustrator is rather symbiotic in nature. Just take Roald Dahl and illustrator Quentin Blake for example. The two names go hand in hand. Blake has the distinct ability to use a few strokes to express a panorama of emotion and activity.

For the BFG, Blake initially drew the giant wearing large boots but neither Dahl nor himself were pleased with the way the illustrations looked. So what did Dahl do? He sent him a scrappy old sandal and voila! Blake was inspired to draw the BFG with sandals instead. Clearly the two worked well together as demonstrated by their partnership enduring nineteen books. Their collaboration ended in 1990 due to the unfortunate passing of Roald Dahl.

I can boldly say that the stories would have been incomplete without Quentin Blake’s masterful illustrations.

 Stepping out of the Time Machine

The trip’s been great and I’m back. It might have felt too short but any time at all is more than enough. There’s only so much time one can spend in the past before being jolted back into the present. That isn’t to say that the past cannot be imbibed within the present.

So, take the time to just be a kid. Don’t let the muggles tell you otherwise because sometimes we suffer from temporary moments of insanity when everything seems to make sense. So truly, in madness lies a sense of truth and clarity. This is the magical world of children literature encompassing madness and morality.

So make no mistake, if you’re re reading Roald Dahl and the gobblefunk throws you off (there is also a Gobblefunk Dictionary in case you need it) remember what the BFG said to Sophie, “Meanings is not important.” Just have fun with it.

There’s a little kid inside everyone so please don’t forget about them. After all, they just want to come out and play. Even if for a little bit. Give them their time of day. You won’t regret it.

I solemnly swear.

Same Love

Her hand is as warm as your wife’s. Her love makes me feel just as wonderful as your girlfriend makes you feel. Why is it wrong for me to love my girl when you can love yours? 

His smile lights up my day just like the way your boyfriend’s does and when he cries I hold him tight. Why can’t I hug him the way you hug yours?

During the 1950s it was illegal, even dangerous, to be a part of any pro-gay organisation and members had to protect themselves by using a code. It was a time when even those who fought for gay rights had to hide in the closet. It was a time when AIDS was attributed to being homosexual, comparing them to lepers spreading disease. It was the time when the gay rights movement started.

Today we see a different picture. The 21st century marks great advancement in the gay rights movement with milestone achievements in the last few years and ones yet to come. 19 August 2013 marks the date when fifteen countries allowed the marriage of same-sex couples. In the United Kingdom, a law permitting the same will come into effect on 29 March 2014. And on 11 December 2013, gay sex was criminalised in India, the world’s largest democracy. In the advancing momentum of the gay rights movement across the world, this is the roadblock.

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The Supreme Court of India upheld Section 377, a 153 year old law born from the colonial era, which sets back our LGBT community. The SC verdict hasn’t been received well by the people of India and has attracted the attention of the US who also frowns upon the judgement. It appears that society has changed, people have changed but this law has not changed. This is the century where we continue to press play and move on but India has hit the pause button for the LGBT community. What does this say about us as a nation? Can we still claim that we are progressing? The answer is no, we cannot.

“Love cannot be jailed, it will prevail.”

It is sad to say that in India, murders and rapes are committed and justice is not meted out fast enough to the guilty parties but we are quick to penalise the gay community. And for what? What crime have they commited? They have not killed anyone. They have not hurt anyone. They are just being true to themselves. And apparently that is a crime in our nation.

On the other hand, Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, decriminalised homosexuality almost 20 years ago and will hold a referendum in 2015 to discuss whether gay marriage should be legalised or not. While they are moving forward, step by step, India has taken a huge leap backwards making the total number of countries criminalising homosexuality from 76 to 77.

Even religion, usually an unwelcome and unforgiving place for gay people, is changing. Pope Francis when asked about gays said, “Who am I to judge?” and backed up this controversial statement by saying that the Church could not interfere spiritually with their lives.

Hence, it is imperative that Section 377 is amended and ultimately wiped off the pages of the constitution like the unwelcome stain that it is. This is the time to speak up and make a difference because at the end of the day, gay rights are human rights. We are all human beings and we should be able to love whoever we want.

dog gay rights

 * I tend to speak passionately about gay rights and it’s often been mistaken that I’m gay myself. Just because someone is passionate about gay rights does not necessarily mean they are  gay just like standing up for animal rights does not make someone an animal.   Also, don’t insult someone by calling them gay, that’s not a bad thing and you’re propagating backward stereotypes with what has become such a casual remark. 

Ottawa- The Heart and Soul of Canada

The capital of the country and fourth largest city in Canada, Ottawa is an undiscovered gem in the face of its neighbouring metropolis Toronto. It’s a fantastic place that you can visit any time of the year because with each new season the entire city changes too!

The Rideau Canal- the longest man-made canal
The Rideau Canal- the longest man-made canal

Winter

As winter rolls in, the people of Ottawa do anything but hibernate! The famous Winterlude festival that has been celebrated for the past three decades brings joy to everyone. The world’s largest skating rink, the Rideau Canal Skateway comes alive with more than 600,000 visitors taking part in a host of winter activities. Spectacular ice carvings grace the frozen canal for one and all to behold and maybe take a couple of silly pictures with along the way. The Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau is home to the world’s biggest snow playground – the Snowflake Kingdom. So grab a pair of skates and head on down!

Gatineau Park foliage
Gatineau Park Foliage

Autumn

The foliage of green soon gives way to warm hues of yellow, orange and red and the best place to see the true beauty of autumn leaves is Gatineau Park. As if there weren’t enough colours on the scenic palette, the Hot Air Balloon festival held in Gatineau adds even more vibrant shades to the sky.

For Halloween, visit Saunders Farm for its Barn of Terror, Haunted House, eerie corn mazes etc. while munching on some kettle corn and sipping apple cider. The farm transforms into a scary Halloween theme park so if you’re ever in Ottawa and want to get spooked with your family and friends this is the place to be!

The Ottawa Tulip Festival
The Ottawa Tulip Festival

Spring

Ottawa receives a multitude of tulip bulbs every year from Holland as a token of appreciation for sheltering their princess during the Second World War. This is how the Canadian Tulip Festival came to be and it is one of the world’s largest tulip festivals. Over a million tulips are planted and displayed throughout the city especially in Commissioner’s Park near Dow’s Lake. The site is breathtakingly beautiful as a panorama of colour spreads before your very eyes. As if anything more were needed, the festival also features musical performances and international cuisine exhibits.

Summer

Canada Day Fireworks
Canada Day Fireworks

Come July 1st and the downtown streets surrounding the Parliament Buildings have a festive air with parades, concerts and fairs to celebrate Canada Day. The night ends with a spectacular firework display giving another meaning to the phrase ‘going out with a bang’.

For the folks of Ottawa August means only one thing: the SuperEX.  It is the most popular festival of the summer with rides, entertainment and activities for all age groups and yes, that includes adults who think they’re too old to have fun at a fair.

ByWard Market, one of Canada’s oldest and largest markets, spans an area of four blocks full of museums, boutiques, cafes and specialty food shops and is extremely pleasant to visit in the summer.

Scotiabank Place
Scotiabank Place

 Catch a hockey game at Scotiabank Place and cheer the local team the Ottawa Senators to victory!

 

Remember, social media is nothing but pseudo-reality…glitter yet dust.

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