Categories
Index

Borderless, September 2021

Editorial

The Caged Birds Sing…Click here to read.

Interviews

Professor Anvita Abbi, a Padma Shri, discusses her experience among the indigenous Andamanese and her new book on them, Voices from the Lost Horizon. Click here to read.

Keith Lyons talks to Jessica Mudditt about her memoir, Our Home in Myanmar, and the current events. Click here to read.

Translations

Be and It All Came into Being

Balochi poetry by Akbar Barakzai, translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Adivasi Poetry

A poem by Jitendra Vasava translated from the Dehwali Bhili via Gujarati by Gopika Jadeja. Click here to read.

A Poem for The Ol Chiki

 Poetry by Sokhen Tudu, translated from the Santhali by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar. Click here to read.

About Time

Korean poetry on time written and translated by Ilwha Choi. Click here to read.

Of Days and Seasons

A parable by the eminent Dutch writer, Louis Couperus (1863-1923), translated by Chaitali Sengupta. Click here to read.

Road to Nowhere

An unusual story about a man who heads for suicide, translated from Odiya by the author, Satya Misra. Click here to read.

Abhisar by Tagore

A story poem about a Buddhist monk by Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Poetry

Click on the names to read the poems

Arundhathi Subramaniam, Michael R Burch, Sekhar Banerjee, Jeff Shakes, Ashok Suri, Tim Heerdink, Srinivas S, Rhys Hughes, A Jessie Michael, George Freek, Saranayan BV, Gigi Baldovino Gosnell, Pramod Rastogi, Tohm Bakelas, Nikita Desai, Jay Nicholls, Smitha Vishwanathan, Jared Carter

Nature’s Musings

In Sun, Seas and Flowers, Penny Wilkes takes us for a tour of brilliant photographs of autumnal landscapes with verses. Click here to read.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Memory Gongs, Rhys Hughes creates a profound myth tinged with a tongue in cheek outlook … Click here to read.

Essays

Crime and the Colonial Capital: Detective Reid in Calcutta

Abhishek Sarkar explores the colonial setting up of the Calcutta detective department in 1887. Click here to read.

The Myth of Happiness

Candice Louisa Daquin ponders over the impositions on people to declare themselves happy. Click here to read.

Once Upon a Time in Burma: Of Babies and Buddhas

John Herlihy takes us through more of Myanmar with his companion, Peter, in the second part of his travelogue. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

Bhaskar Parichha explores links between Politics & the Media. Click here to read.

Musings/Slices from Life

Cyclists

Mike Smith muses about a black and white photograph from his childhood. Click here to read.

Leo Messi’s Magic Realism

Sports fan Saurabh Nagpal explores the magic realism in famous footballer Messi’s play with a soupçon of humour. Click here to read.

Infinite Possibilities & Mysterious Riddles

Keith Lyons gives a lively account of traveling across borders despite the pandemic. Click here to read.

Word Play

Geetha Ravichnadran explores additions to our vocabulary in a tongue-in-cheek article. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In When I Almost Became a Professor, Devraj Singh Kalsi gives humour tinged reasons on why he detached himself from being an academician. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Turret

Niles M Reddick relates a haunting tale of ghosts and more. Click here to read.

Silver Lining

Dipayn Chakrabarti travels through moods of the day and night. Click here to read.

Captain Andi is in love

Dr. P Ravi Shankar explores a future beyond climate change in Malaysia. Click here to read.

The Cockatoo

Revathi Ganeshsundaram captures the stardust in ripening years. Click here to read.

The Missing Tile

Saeed Ibrahim’s story reflects on the ties between an old teacher and a student. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

In Return of the Ghost, Sunil Sharma explores the borders between life, ideas and death. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Kobi’ and ‘Rani’: Memoirs and Correspondences of Nirmalkumari Mahalanobis and Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Somdatta Mandal, showcasing Tagore’s introduction and letters. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Rakhi Dalal reviews Anvita Abbi’s Voices from the Lost Horizon. Click here to read.

Basudhara Roy reviews Bina Sarkar Ellias’ Song of a Rebel and Other Selected Poems. Click here to read.

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Wendy Doniger’s Winged Stallion and Wicked Mares. Click here to read.

Categories
Editorial

The Caged Birds Sing

...Don't you know
They're talkin''bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper...
-- Tracy Chapman,'Talkin 'Bout a Revolution
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 
— Bible 

We are living in strange times that seem to be filled with events to challenge the innovativeness of man. As if the pandemic were not enough, concepts that had come out of the best in our civilisation to unite mankind have been convoluted by a minority to manipulate and hurt the majority into submission. Life is not about surviving with faint-hearted compliance but about having the courage to live it as you want, facing it full up front, to voice out in unison against injustices, wrongs, and most of all to loan strength to help and care for each other. Often to understand this, we need to hinge on to our past, to learn from our heritage. But do we do that? In the hectic drive to be successful, we tend to ignore important lessons that could have been imbibed from the past. Like, did you know that the tribes in the Andaman can save themselves from a tsunami?

Padma Shri Anvita Abbi tells us all about the Andamanese and her attempts to revive their moribund language in her interview and book, Voices from the Lost Horizon, reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. While the review focusses on the uniqueness of Abbi’s work and the publication with its embedded recordings of the tribe fast dissolving into the morass of mainstream civilisation, her interview highlights the need to revive their lores that evolved out of a 70,000-year-old culture. On the other hand, Jessica Mudditt, interviewed by Keith Lyons, dwells on the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, which has been clearly the focus of her book, Our Home in Yangon. This interview focusses on the here and now of the crisis. But most crises have their roots deep and perhaps an exploration of these could help. There are 135 ethnicities in Myanmar but how many are actually integrated into the mainstream? Are they in the process of getting ‘lost’ like the voices of the speakers of Greater Andamanese?

That is why we tried to showcase a few such strains that are going unheard in the loudness of the ‘civilised’ mainstream. We have translations in poetry from Santhali and Adivasi, touching on the concerns of those who are often considered underdeveloped. And, perhaps, as Abbi said in her interview about the Andamanese, we can say much the same for these tribes too.

“These tribes are neither poor, nor uneducated (their knowledge of environment comprising birds, fishes, medicinal plants and their … weather predictions, and the Earth they walk on is amazing) …”

Distinctions have been created by a ‘civilisation’ entrenched in mono-cognitive enforcements leading to the loss of trust, confidence, languages, cultures and valuable knowledge about basic survival. Perhaps we can attempt to heal such wounds by imbibing the openness, love, devotion and compassion shown by the Buddhist monk, Upagupta (who is still revered in Myanmar as Shin Upagutta), in the translation of Tagore’s story poem, ‘Abhisar’ or ‘The Tryst’.  Somdatta Mandal’s translation of Tagore’s letters introduce similar humanitarian concerns when the maestro mentions a German anthropologist and his wife who for the betterment of mankind were journeying to study tribals in India. Tagore remarks, “The people for whom they are willingly prepared to undergo hardship and to overlook all sorts of danger are not their relatives, nor are they civilised.” And yet even a century ago to fathom more about mankind, attempts were being made to integrate with our ancient lore. The concept of being ‘civilised’ is of course now much under the microscope. What is being ‘civilised’?

 Is it about having power? We have Akbar Barakzai’s poem translated by Fazal Baloch on creation looking at the divide between a ‘civilised’ God and man. The theme stresses the two sides of the divide. More translations from Odiya, Dutch and Korean further mingle different flavours of the world into our journal — each questioning the accepted norm in different ways.

In an edition focussed on myths and stories from which we evolved, Rhys Hughes has created an unusual legend around elephants. His poetry also deals with animals — cats. One wonders if the T S Eliot’s famed ‘Macavity, the Mystery Cat’ could have to do something with his choices?  We were fortunate to have Arundhathi Subramaniam share her poetry on myths around Indian figures like Shakuntala and Avvaiyar and the titular poem from When God is a Traveller that won her the 2020 Sahitya Akademi Award. Michael R Burch continues on the theme dwelling on Circe, Mary Magdalene and Helen. Sekhar Banerjee has a more iconoclastic approach to myths in his poetry. Jared Carter talks of modern myths perpetuated through art and cultural studies as does Mike Smith in his musings with his glance back at the last century through a photograph.

We have poetry by a Filipino writer Gigi Baldovino Gosnell from South Africa, looking for a new world, a new legend, perhaps a world without borders. Tohm Bakelas has given us a few lines of powerful poetry. Could these poems be a reaction to world events? Smitha Vishwanath has responded to the situation in Afghanistan with a poem. In this edition, photographs and verses in Penny Wilkes’ ‘Nature’s Musings‘ draw from the universe. She writes, “The sun never asks for applause” — a powerful thought and perhaps one mankind can learn from.

Ghost stories by Niles Reddick and Sunil Sharma perpetuate the theme, especially the latter has a ghost that questions myths of ‘isms’ created in the modern-day world. We also have a writer from Malaysia, P Ravi Shankar, with a futuristic legend set in a far-off time where man has embraced the reality of climate change and artificial intelligence. An interesting and fun read as is Devraj Singh Kalsi’s professions about why he did not become a professor, Geetha Ravichandran’s light musing on word play and a young writer Saurabh Nagpal’s musing, ‘Leo Messi’s Magic Realism‘ — a footballer viewed from a literary perspective!

While our musings make us laugh, our essays this time take us around the world with the myth of happiness deconstructed by Candice Louisa Daquin, to Burma and deep into Kolkata’s iconic history of the detective department started in the nineteenth century. There is an essay by Bhaskar Parichha that explores politics and media and mentions ‘gatekeepers’ of the media who need to be responsible for influencing public opinion. Guess who would be the gatekeepers?

Bhaskar Parichha’s review of Wendy Donniger’s non-fiction exploring myths around horses, Winged Stallion and Wicked Mares, and Basudhara Roy’s review of Bina Sarkar Ellias’ Song of a Rebel and Other Selected Poems perpetuate the theme of the importance of the past on the one hand and question it on the other. But that is what Borderless is about — exploring the dialectics of opposing streams to re-invent myths towards a better future.

We have a bumper issue again this time with nearly fifty posts. I invite our wonderful readers on a magical journey to unfold the hidden, unmentioned gems scattered on the pages of the September Issue of Borderless. Thank you again to an outstanding team, all our global contributors who make every edition an adventure and a reality and our wonderful readers. Thank you all.

Have a beautiful month!

Mitali Chakravarty

Borderless Journal

Categories
Musings

Word Play

By Geetha Ravichandran

Every year, new words appear in the dictionary. There is also a contest of sorts among the new entrants and one gets elected the ‘Word of the Year’. A few years ago, the coveted title, awarded by a reputed authority in the field, went to ‘post-truth’. It is a matter of relief that while new entrants are feted, all the older ones are not given a ceremonial exit. Imagine the state of affairs if ‘truth’ were to be given a send-off!

One word that I would personally like to see erased is ‘breaking news’. After watching news channels religiously for so many years, I have still not figured out why news is ‘breaking’. Or, more particularly, why is it claimed that news is breaking, even after it has been broken. I think it would be a refreshing change to hear the ‘whole’ story or get wholesome news. Maybe, if the news is actually explosive it could be called ‘shattering news’. Or even news quake, if the idea is to draw viewership by sound bursts and stop viewers from flipping channels. However that may also prove to be a damp squib, as by now it is well known that ‘explosive disclosures’ do not cause earthquakes.

Seeing some words grow and acquire nuances is as interesting, as seeing  some others shrivel and fade away. The word ‘like’, for instance is increasingly used in conversation today, as a verbal comma. The word ‘hot’ is rapidly being replaced by ‘cool’ to convey approval. Today, everything in spite of global warming, is described as ‘cool’. Along with its derivative ‘chill’, it is the most expressive response one can expect from millennials.

Earlier, it took a Shakespeare to enrich language with a few thousand words. Today, the creative genius of many anonymous sources finds its way into circulation, before being elevated to the columns of dictionaries.  The software programmes which are in use for word documents, underline in red many multi-lingual words that are commonly understood by everyone but the programme.  On being prompted by the programme, whether the unrecognised word is to be ignored, corrected or added to the dictionary is a decision that has to be made. I for my part, contribute generously to the idea of adding new words. For, it’s a warm feeling when fringe words are acknowledged and given their due. 

I have heard the word ‘timepass’, used decades ago by vendors who would clamber up the compartment as our train neared the Bombay (now Mumbai) station to hawk everything from peanuts, to magazines, to rattles and toy cars. Now, the word has wide currency, describing a range of activity from listening to music, idling with a phone, blanking out in class or doing nothing. I am not sure whether lexicons have accepted this, but that does not seem to matter.

What we may well see in the future, is further elasticity in the use of language. The predictive text, which often behaves as if it is presumptive text, seems to know what has to be said. Need for any references or even the need to know how to spell have been considerably reduced. The idea, after all is to be understood.

In post-truth times – anything goes.

.

Geetha Ravichandran lives in Mumbai. When she is not working, she watches the sky and the sea.  In the past year, her poems have been published in Borderless, Setumag and included in a couple of anthologies published by Hawakal.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Index

Pandemic Pandemonium

As we glide in and out of different phases of the pandemic, recalling when it started to make news takes one to a different world, a world where human interactions, travel, life — all of it seemed more predictable. I remember, I heard of it while in Yogyakarta in December 2019. At that time, we just knew of some new outbreak that had taken toll of a few human lives.

In three months, it became larger and larger and lockdowns became a reality. At some point, the outbreak was named a pandemic. Now, it seems to loom over us like a Sisyphean burden which rolls back to a fresh threat from a new variant just as we start to feel we have finally overcome the virus and made it to the peak, where we can resume our old ways. Is this a hint that we need to redefine our lives and change the tenor of our existence?

With eternal optimism for a weapon, mankind has overcome more deadly situations, when there were neither labs nor technologies to overcome diseases. Writers on our pages have reacted to the multiple outbreaks in varied ways. Here we present a selection of poems, stories and non-fiction from Mid-2021 that feature the onset of the new waves of the virus, which eventually will hopefully evolve to become an endemic. What is heartening to see is some writing has started to move towards a direction to define new ways to overcome the fear and darkness that seem to have been generated by the inability to bounce back to our ‘normal’ ways of living within a given timeframe. Perhaps, one should tend to agree with Keith Lyons, when he says in his essay: “I’ve learned to better cope with the challenges of life. As Jedi Master Yoda once said: ‘Named must be your fear before banish it you can’.”

Poetry

One Last Time by Heena Chauhan. Click here to read.

A Lament, A Prayer by Bibek Adhikari. Click here to read.

O Mother, O Father! by Ruchi Acharya. Click here to read.

Hope in Pandemic by Geetha Ravichandran. Click here to read.

Non-Fiction

Here, There, Nowhere, Everywhere

‘Did life change or did I change’ ponders New Zealander Keith Lyons. Click here to read.

Corona & the Police

Subhankar Dutta reflects on the role the police has taken in a pandemic torn world. Click here to read.

Fiction

If at all

Shobha Nandavar, a physician in Bangalore, depicts the trauma of Covid 19 in India with compassion. Click here to read.

The Arangetram or The Debut

Sheefa V. Mathews weaves lockdown and parenting into a story of a debuting dancer. Click here to read.

Categories
Index

Borderless, June 2021

Editorial

Restless Stirrings… Click here to read.

Interviews

In conversation with Fakrul Alam, an eminent translator, critic and academic from Bangladesh who has lived through the inception of Bangladesh from East Bengal, translated not just the three greats of Bengal (Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda) but also multiple political leaders. Click here to read.

In conversation with Arindam Roy, the Founder and Editor-in-cheif of Different Truths, an online portal for social journalism with forty years of experience in media and major Indian newspapers. Click here to read

Poetry

Click on the names to read

Jared Carter, Geetha Ravichandran, Heena Chauhan, Michael R. Burch, Ruchi Acharya, Jim Bellamy, Bibek Adhikari, Rhys Hughes, Ihlwha Choi, Sutputra Radheye, Jay Nicholls, Geethu V Nandakumar, John Grey, Ana Marija Meshkova

Limericks by Michael R. Burch

Nature’s Musings

Changing Seasons, a photo-poem by Penny Wilkes.

Poets, Poetry & Rhys Hughes

In Never Knowingly Understood : The Sublime Daftness of Ivor Cutler, Rhys Hughes takes us to the world of a poet who wrote much about our times with a sense of humour. Click here to read.

Translations

Akbar Barakzai’s poem, The Law of Nature, translated by Fazal Baloch. Click here to read.

Kazi Nazrul Islam’s poem, Shammobadi (The Equaliser) translated by Shahriyer Hossain Shetu. Click here to read.

Tagore’s Amar Shonar Horin Chai (I want the Golden Deer) translated by Mitali Chakravarty, edited and interpreted in pastel by Sohana Manzoor. Click here to read.

To mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray, Ratnottama Sengupta translates from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography experience of Pather Panchali ( Song of the Road) — between covers and on screen. Click here to read.

Musings

An Immigrant’s Story

Candice Louisa Daquin tells us what it means to be an American immigrant in today’s world. Click here to read.

Navigating Borders

Wendy Jones Nakanishi, an academic who started her life in a small town called Rolling Prairie in midwestern US, talks of her journey as a globe trotter — through Europe and Asia — and her response to Covid while living in UK. Click here to read.

I am a Jalebi

Arjan Batth tells us why he identifies with an Indian sweetmeat. Click here to read why.

The Significance of the Roll Number

Shahriyer Hossain Shetu writes of ironing out identity at the altar of modern mass education. Click here to read.

Musings of a Copywriter

In Creative on Campus, Devraj Singh Kalsi with a soupcon of humour, explores young romances and their impact. Click here to read.

Adventures of a Backpacking Granny

Sybil Pretious visits volcanoes and lakes in Frenetic Philippines. Click here to read.

Essays

Here, There, Nowhere, Everywhere

‘Did life change or did I change from the events of the last year,’ ponders New Zealander Keith Lyons who was in the southern state of Kerala when the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in India last January. Click here to read.

The Story of a Bald Eagle & a Turkey

A photo essay by Penny and Michael B Wilkes on the American bald eagle to commemorate their Independence Day. Click here to read.

The Day Michael Jackson Died

A tribute  by Julian Matthews to the great talented star who died amidst ignominy and controversy. Click here to read.

Remembering Shiv Kumar Batalvi

Amrita Sharma has written a memorablia on the Punjabi poet, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, who wrote in the 1960s. Click here to read.

Tagore and Guru Nanak’s Vision

Parneet Jaggi talks of the influence Guru Nanak on Tagore, his ideology and poetry. Click here to read.

Bhaskar’s Corner

In Amrita Sher-Gil: An Avant-Garde Blender of the East & West, Bhaskar Parichha shows how Amrita Sher-Gil’s art absorbed the best of the East and the West. Click here to read.

Stories

Flash Fiction: Peregrine

Brindley Hallam Dennis tells us the story of a cat and a human. Click here to read.

The Crystal Ball

Saeed Ibrahim gives us a lighthearted story of a young man in quest of a good future. Click here to read

The Arangetram or The Debut

Sheefa V. Mathews weaves lockdown and parenting into a story of a debuting dancer. Click here to read.

Ghumi Stories: The Other Side of the Curtain

Nabanita Sengupta explores childhood and its experiences. Click here to read.

The Literary Fictionist

Sunil Sharma explores facets of terrorism and its deadly impact on mankind in Truth Cannot Die. Click here to read.

Book Reviews

Neelima Dalmia Adhar’s The Secret Diary Of Kasturba reviewed by Meenakshi Malhotra. Click here to read.

Shrilal Shukla’s Fragments of Happiness translated by Niyati Bafna and reviewed by Rakhi Dalal. Click here to read

Bhaskar Parichha reviews Transformational Leadership in Banking edited by Anil K. Khandelwal. Click here to read.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Enter Stage Right by Feisal Alkazi with a visual of young Alkazi dancing in one of the earliest discos of New Delhi. Click here to read.

Categories
Poetry

Hope in Pandemic

By Geetha Ravichandran

A Prayer

What can you say
to a dear friend
who is fighting for life,
gasping for breath?

Open your eyes-
the tender
mango leaves,
have begun to sprout.
There’s a ruckus outside 
the window, the babblers
you watched over daily,
are scrambling for grain.
 
Let the love
your gurgling laughter
spread, the faith 
that kept you busy
on cold nights,
the beauty of your 
giving freely,
gather --
to weave a magic blanket
to protect and heal you.



Clouds

Every cloud holds a story,
in its nameless form
and its formless cape.
One edges out the sun,
jutting on its way
and dabs its cheeks
with pink splotches.
Another blazes a trail,
of gold dust and flushes
in borrowed beauty 
for half-a-second.
One stands like an anime,
poised for eternity. 
There’s an in-between god,
who rides a tiger
and pours rain callously
on a cold, feverish city.
The posthumous rain
will splash on, till
the burning fever wrath
evaporates like a dream,
when the folds of the cloud
unfurl and let 
the clear sky be.

Geetha Ravichandran lives in Mumbai. When she is not working, she watches the sky and the sea.  In the past year, her poems have been published in Borderless, Setumag and included in a couple of anthologies published by Hawakal.

Categories
Nostalgia Poetry

The house that let us go

                                           By Geetha Ravichandran

The house that let us go

The goat would sneak in through the fence

and chew up a bunch of honeysuckle flowers.

But we had to open the gate

to show it the way out,

as it would bleat on — clueless.

The rose, just didn’t want to grow there,

and had to be given doses of strong coffee

till it was coaxed to put out a single bloom.

.

The brood of banana trees

thrived, although neglected

and would anyway end up on the plate,

as a boring meal.

The mangoes appeared every summer

but were so sour,

that they had to be pickled and put away,

even the fruit thieves would have none of it.

.

There were seven coconut trees,

planted at an auspicious hour

their great fronds, grim and ghostly

in the sticky, brooding night air.

It was the jasmine that climbed up a trellis

blooming every evening,

its fragrance –lilting like a melody,

that made the house special.

.

But still the house was a trap,

in which we were buried by expectations

of well-meaning parents.

The sharp-tongued women next-door,

peered over walls and ticked us off

for playing cricket on the streets.

Escape we did – vaulted to freedom,

fuelled by our whims, aided by liberal market winds.

.

Now, the old squat house, built on a shoestring,

has been gobbled up by a sleek building

and a cosmetic patch of periwinkle flowers —

graveyard flowers — as father would say,

is the only product of the soil.

The beauty, that we had barely acknowledged

now appears in streaks of memories.

We are gentler, when we breathe free. 

.

Homecoming                                                                                                                                                                                                    

What have you done to the room?

A row of silver and another of golden lights

glittering through a wooden panel,

in manic eagerness to welcome me,

shelves filled with a display of a fleet of ships,

as if to jolt my memory to the spells of sea-sickness.

Where are my plants by the window,

my low chair and the filigree silver peacock?

.

So many things I love,

have been swept into a mound of dust

and with it go my carefully crafted thoughts

of putting aside, the quarrels of the past.

Nothing has really changed,

it has only disintegrated into a bigger mess.

.

And then suddenly, springs the fragrance of white lilies,

stuck hurriedly in a vase, looking thoroughly sheepish.

.

There is promise in the morning air,

as I sit down to drown my thoughts

in calming breaths, when you come up

attempting to mask your boss -of –the- house stride

and as your first compromise,

to the worthy goal of joint-decision-making

ask helplessly- ‘This bottle of medicine is empty,

shall I throw it out?’

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Geetha Ravichandran is a bureaucrat, presently posted in Mumbai. It is writing, that she most enjoys doing. She has written contemplative articles for Direct Path and middles for Deccan Herald. Her recent poems have appeared in Reading Hour and Mountain Path. One of her poems has been included in the recent anthology, Hibiscus published by Hawakal publishers.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.