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Old 7th July 2020, 20:39   #1
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Default My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

I am narrating briefly on my life in Dubai after return a decade ago.

Now that going to Dubai as a visitor has become so easy, that anyone can think of and fulfill his dream of a foreign sojourn. This was not so till mid 1990's when getting a job and Visa for the same was a must. It was no easy to land into a job with good reputation. To avail family status, the employee was required to have a minimum salary criteria.
I got the opportunity of taking up a job in Dubai after stints in Iraq (1982-84), Doha Qatar (1984-86), Bahrain (1991-95) and finally Dubai in 1996.
Dubai has now become one of the most visited place. Pictures of Burj Khalifa, Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, various Malls, Gold Souq and other Architecture etc. are common and familiar images. I shall avoid all that and take you to a tour of my hobby - Off Road Driving. Desert Driving, Dune bashing or any other name for it, but wrecking of Cars is the essential component.

My driving started in India from Defence Services TMB (Tata) Trucks and scaled down to smaller vehicles later. I would sometimes drive Private Bus under DTC operation (as Tashan in 1979-80) while I was working and being a student of JNU, pursuing German Language as a part time student.

1982 took me to Iraq on a Dam Project where I was allotted and had the opportunity to wreck Toyota Landcruiser 4WD pickup. Those two years, I was off road only, and true to my signature, all sounds from my LC would become Audible while on Tarmac. Hence, my LC was unofficially termed "Not Allowed on Tarmac". That was all courtesy Iraq Govt. and my salute to Saddam.

What started the passion ?

It was this LC that is responsible for all that happened in my life, later

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I had this under me while in Bahrain (1991 - 95)
Owners Pride, Neighbours Envy if I may say so. It could give heartburn to some considering it to be a Hot Topic in the forum presently while I drove this Shoe box just a quarter century ago.

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Much later, 1996 till 2010, I lived in Dubai with my Wife and two daughters (then School going). This is where Sun, Sand and S** is abundant and for people to enjoy. My passion for Off-Roading was re-ignited, but now I was to own and wreck my own Cars.

I have been member of dubai4X4.com and later an active member and Moderator for Humour section of desertlions.com. Unfortunately, this website was shut down with most of the senior members leaving Dubai and all our Photographs and memoirs were lost. I have some Pics of our outings which I would share here. Please bear with me for the quality of Pictures here because some of them have been scanned from picture on 110 Film, 35mm Film and early digital with P&S Camera, proudly owning 4MP Canon.

Hope it would be of interest to fellows here.

Amrik Singh

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Old 7th July 2020, 20:48   #2
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Bought pre-owned Ford Topaz with 2.8 Litres under its hood (early 1997). Later when my Wife got her Licence, got her a Kia Sephia, before I jumped to 4WD bandwagon, a few years later.

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My first 4WD. (Pre-owned by my company, which later sold it to me)

It is basically, Mitsubishi Pajero, but assembled by Hyundai and named "Galloper" with 3.0 Litres Petrol Engine and manual Transmission. Sold and serviced in Dubai not by Hyundai, but the same company that owned Mitsubishi. Later Hyundai came up with their first 4WD models.



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Start off to my first Fun Drive organized by Gulf News. This was followed by many more held annually.

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.

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Old 7th July 2020, 20:58   #3
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

It may be noted that there is an unwritten law in UAE wherein all 4WD drivers are assumed to be hostile and a different class. But let me tell you, they are the most helpful ones and sensing anyone in trouble, they would rush in swarms for help - a tribute to the beast they drive.

My Second 4WD

My first 4WD was liked by my wife which prompted me to upgrade her drive from Sedan to 4WD.
Incidentally, I found another one of same Make, Model and Colour as the previous. Only that it is Short Wheel base, 3-Door and Automatic transmission. It had the same engine 3.0 Lit which is tremendous for a small 4WD. The Boots were oversized to 275/75-16 which was good enough for me to tread over sand with ease.

Pictures of this one, on two of the organised Fun Drives.


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(Note one of the Lights missing - Lost in the graveyard of mighty desert)

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It met the same fate as the first one. Smoking engine because of sand entering the engine despite regular cleaning of Air Filter. Rather than repairing or replacing engine with similar model, it was economical to sell it off and see it destined for Oman where the standards of maintenance required are not so tough.


With rise in my status, I needed to upgrade my Vehicle to cope up with it.

This time I chose Nissan Pathfinder, A/T with 3.5 Lit. Petrol Engine. The stock Tyres were immediately replaced by 275/75-16 as this was the best it could take without modifications.

Heavy duty and longer Springs were added which gave a lift of about 1.5 inch to it.

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And my Wife's Car Toyota Rav 4 AWD, 3-Door. A beauty to see and joy to drive


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Needless to say, all these Cars were Deserted, I mean had to suffer or endure the desert driving.

.

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Old 7th July 2020, 21:16   #4
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Fuel Economy ? Living in Dubai, this question is meaningless. Though the Petrol is almost three times cheaper in UAE compared to India, the Engine capacity is also three times larger than most of the Cars here. So cost of operation is almost same except the benefit of huge salaries & Tax Free state (then). Fuel efficiency cannot be recorded for Off-Road drives.

The reply to "Kitna Deti Hai ?" directly hurts the heart. For this reason, I do not even have answer to Fuel economy of my Gypsy or even Pulsar 180.

The desert started from the outskirts of Dubai in early 2000 and with the growth in next decade, we were wasting more time in hitting the sand. The city had grown, pushing the desert away while some areas were fenced off to avoid entering from any place.

The outings were of different types. Here is a quiet family outing with children enjoying any way they loved.


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.

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Old 8th July 2020, 10:33   #5
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Here is another type of outing - Family Group Outing.

The location chosen was hilly terrain adjoining the neighbor country - Oman. Incidentally, there are pockets of land, within UAE, that belong to Oman and we pass through it without hindrance. We also benefited from this incursion. Petrol was a bit cheaper in Oman and we paid obeisance by filling up from the only Petrol Pump there.


A message on Mobile Phone to welcome us in Oman that we would receive when entering their territory. Otherwise how would we know that ?

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Fenced off area is the land of neighbor country.
A different feeling from Border, LOC, LAC etc. that we hear here.


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The beast and the terrain - its natural habitat


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Social get together and bar-be-cue in progress.
Mostly shared with each other.


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This type of outings consisted no show-off and no difficult driving conditions. Aim was to have a peaceful and relaxing evening shared with families.

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Old 8th July 2020, 13:28   #6
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Having shown the soft drives in desert, let me take you on a ride with newbies for easy run to induct them into the Sand.

Join me for a ride where my duty is to drive as Sweeper. To keep count of all Cars, drive in the rear and ensure no Car is lost.
The drive starts with a briefing. It is asserted that the driver should not just look ahead for the best path, but sideways to enjoy the beauty of desert and rear view mirror also to ensure that you are followed by another car. The moment Car following you disappears from your view, you stop too.This way, the message would be transmitted to Leader. Shall not discuss much here as all this is there on Off Roading Do's and Don'ts.

After leaving the Tarmac, there is usual 'Charan-sparsh' (touching the feet / boots) to deflate to about 14-16 psi.


The briefing of instructions





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Expert or Novice - Everyone listens carefully


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A short break to share pleasantries, socializing and sharing experiences. Even Children are a part of this drive.



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A little bit of Fun. This is the practical part for Newbies to learn. Belly landing - when a driver loses momentum passing the crest of the dune. Sometimes this could be due to being double minded - to go or not to go. All four wheels are in the air and then either shoveling off the sand from under the chassis, accompanied by manual push by other drivers or finally a tug by other vehicle helps in getting unstuck.

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All smiles .. No fuming


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Another stuck. More shoveling required.


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Hitting the Tarmac again. Inflate with our Portable Air Compressors to a minimum safe pressure (20-25 psi) and drive to nearest Petrol Pump for rest. Blow sand out of Air Filter at the same time.



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Bid adieu. Some of the experts who have joined for the sake of Newbies, but are not satisfied with the easy level of the run, decide on another extreme level drive after their Friday noon prayers.

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Old 8th July 2020, 16:50   #7
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

What we come across in desert that the city dwellers miss ?


Some vegetation which is said to be poisonous. Even the wild animals do not consume them.

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Shrub Flexing Muscles ? Seems to me


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Farms in the middle of the desert.
Even the fodder for the animals come on LC. Jealous ?

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Trees that have their roots in the air.


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Rocks growing out of Sand ? Or Fossil Rocks.

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A lonesome Tree giving shade to passing by Men and their Machines


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Roaming Camels. No they are not wild but domesticated.

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Differential Lock ? Probably what their owners intend it to function as.

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Some donkeys too. Real ones - unlike some two legged ones

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Arabian Gazelles in protective fencing.


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There is sparse vegetation in the desert which supports flora and fauna too. Though it gives a good traction to the Vehicles, we avoid driving over it to allow it to flourish along with its colony of insects and other small reptiles.

.

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Old 8th July 2020, 17:18   #8
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

I feel, being on the dirt track is better and more interesting than these off side narratives. Taking you back to the beaten track.

Hurdles are always there on the way. Some come up just at the beginning while others come anywhere, surprisingly, waiting for you to make a mistake.

Here is one that came up while the Road we traveled, is still visible.


As the saying goes

You are not stuck till you can see out of your windshield


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For some, a Warm-up is a constant feature, though called 'Let's Chill'

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All set to move on

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.

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Old 8th July 2020, 17:41   #9
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Another adventure follows


Meeting and waiting for members to arrive


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A latecomer making up

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Pre drive, last minute check

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The Line up

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One - Two - Three - Go !!!!

Follow the leader. As usual, I am left behind to cover all participants.

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Cruising comfortably


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Reached our destination - Our Playground to 'Chill Out' while the Car Engines heat up.

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,

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Old 8th July 2020, 18:06   #10
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Most of the Visitors to Dubai, do go for Desert Safari. No doubt, it is a thrilling life time experience. But they observe a set time and route. They perform some of the fantastic drives that the visitors / Passengers are left in awe.
But, the thrill of drive is dampened by a desire that, the guest has in his mind - To be on the driving Seat on this terrain and hold the Steering Wheel. Alas ! This desire goes unfulfilled.

In this respect, we had all the open desert ahead of us. Some tracks trodden with rubber and some Virgin - never explored. We never knew what lies ahead or beyond the edge of the dune and so the fear of unseen was always on our mind. The expertise laid in tackling this ghost enemy. This is what thrill is or the rush of adrenaline.
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Old 8th July 2020, 18:34   #11
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Every drive, taught us a lesson. To share this, I take you to another drive.



Collection at the meeting point and deflation

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Start moving

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Raising dust


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Breather. Let the Engines cool down a bit. Socializing and exchanging experiences.
In short, asking about each others Car and its performance

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Charting the next course - discussion

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.

To be continued ..

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Old 8th July 2020, 20:54   #12
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Continuation from previous post ..


Attempting a steep incline


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A weak 'Spacer' breaks down.

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DIY Men on the repair. The broken part is removed and the Car made to be on the move.


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Another hiccup !!! Tyre Pop out !! A Rare Double Pop out. With Tubeless Tyre, when a vehicle is swerved suddenly, the partially deflated Tyre moves sideways allowing all the air to escape suddenly. The wheel is jacked up, Rim / Tyre cleaned of all sand particles and portable Air compressor used to inflate. Nothing new for us but a rare time, I have come across both - Front and Rear Tyre Pop at the same time.

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Mighty Desert spares no one - impartial and has no regard for the Make / Model of the Car
Everybody gets stuck sooner or later.

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This is what separates Boys from Men. Amateurs from Professionals.
On weekend, amateur 4WD owners try their hands on this this dune just next to the road. They swarm over here to try their hands, or rather, their boots on sand. While the hardcore have traversed miles through tough terrain and reached the same place, divided by the road.

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You can count or maybe not, hundreds of 4WD on the dune ahead, but a handful behind. The ones who have been miles deep from the road, inside the desert.

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.
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Old 9th July 2020, 09:02   #13
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Some other moods of Dubai






Different contrasts of Sand and its composition

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Travelling to 'Kalba', bordering Oman. Marshes and wetland exist in this part.
First the Tunnel and 'light at the end of the tunnel'


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Trees laden with 'Dates'


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Last edited by Amrik Singh : 9th July 2020 at 09:03.
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Old 9th July 2020, 09:41   #14
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

'Wadi' is a word that we often read in Urdu / Hindi poetry and hear in Film songs. In these regions, 'Wadi' refers to low lying flat beds that are mostly dry and fill up occasionally as it rains and bring in Flash Floods.
There are plenty of warning signboards in hilly region.

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At this stage, to show this phenomenon, I have to cross International Border and step into Oman. Travelling to Muscat, Oman from Dubai, is a hilly terrain overlooking Indian Ocean. With hills on the 'Right 'and Ocean on the 'Left', there is not much distance in between. So, when it rains, the rainwater from the hills flow down towards the Ocean choosing the path of Wadi. The road to Muscat, running in plains, parallel to the coastline is on the course.

This road dips low at places, to allow the Water flow through. Markers are embedded on the shallow part to indicate the depth of water at the lowest point. Here, crossing the flooding water is a task - necessity for some and Fun for others. I was caught up in crossing this once. The Front of my car hitting the water caused it to rise and flow over my bonnet. I managed to cross safely.
The clue to its crossing is that, irrespective of the lane you are driving, enter the water from the lane where the water is flowing in from. As you drive, trying to keep yourself in the same lane, mighty water will force you to shift and you will find yourself exiting from the other extreme lane. At some places, strong pillars are erected on the lower side to trap any vehicle that may get caught in the flood waters and is dragged away.
In M/T, burn the clutch and keep revving high while driving through. With A/T, this can be achieved by shifting to Low Gear (4WD option). One unavoidable loss is the flaps around the Wheels and other flimsy Plastics under body which are hit by Water from the opposite side and tend to come off. Once out of water, apply Brake frequently to dry off water in the wheel drum.



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Police is present to assist in case of an accident.

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Last edited by Amrik Singh : 9th July 2020 at 09:45.
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Old 9th July 2020, 18:48   #15
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Default re: My Automotive Life in Dubai - Memoirs of a Decade

Memoirs I would cherish are, nights out in the Desert. New Year celebrations were with a Camping out. For Camping overnight, the most important thing is a Bonfire and wood for the same.
In my profession, I had absolute control over Construction companies and it was not difficult to have truck load of scrap wood delivered to near our camping site. Rather it was a nightmare for the other organizing members to haul all that wood from road to camping site. We had surplus wood so that not just one main ceremonial Bonfire, but everybody had the opportunity to light a fire to his needs and requirements.

Nights in desert are chilling and do require suitable clothing and sleeping arrangement e.g. Sleeping Bags, Tents etc.

Here are some glimpses of the same.



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Sometimes even this goes on Sacrificial Altar


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Daybreak


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Another New Year Eve



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Forgot to mention that 31st December also happens to be my Birthday - every year.
Members did not forget to include them in ceremony.

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With my better half


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Cute Kids having their share of Fun & Sweet


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Usual Chit chat with friends

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Sure !!!! Something is cooking up and it is gonna be a treat

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All merriment while the Bonfire shoot up flames

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To be continued ...

Last edited by Amrik Singh : 9th July 2020 at 18:51.
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