Life lessons from the ice cream King of Mumbai

In my travels I’ve met a lot of interesting people. Some real Assholes that I couldn’t wait until the door hit them on the way out and others who I wish I could put in my suitcase. Both types of people teach me lessons, either “be more like them”or “slap me if I’m ever like them”. I wasn’t “enlightened” in India like all the hippies and yogis claim to experience. Way too many starving begging kids in the streets. At the heart of my trip I found people that were a lot like me, hard working and hungry for knowledge. But of all the students at evolution Mumbai gym, one really blew my mind.
Everyday when I woke up, I had this guy knock on the door to fetch me for practice. He tried carrying my gym bag for me, always asked me If I wanted anything, coffee, breakfast etc. And every night he’d walk me to the door, making sure I had everything I needed until the next day. I assumed he was just another gym lackey, especially one night when he started offering to take my laundry to have cleaned. Boy did I feel like an idiot when I found out the truth.
So one night we are driving home from a day of sight seeing, he asks me if id like to go for ice cream. I don’t know who he talked to beforehand but ice cream holds the key to my heart and soul. So off we went, down a few side streets before pulling up to an ice cream shop. I was excited. We walk up and my unnamed friend walks behind the counter, passed the employees and into the freezer, grabbing this and that. My jaw dropped a bit as he handed them to me, the employees of the shop not skipping a beat at all. Come to find out, this is his shop. He not only owned this one but 28 others just like them. So basically I stuffed my “fat kid at hearts” face, even rubbing it in a little bit to the guys that had fights coming up. The joys of not cutting weight are infinite.
Anyway on the drive home me and the The ice king cream talked a bit, I had to know what this ridiculously humble and unassuming guys story was.
“When I was a boy, I wanted to own an ice cream shop so that I could eat all of the ice cream I wanted”. That one sentence is at the heart of every young mans existence. He took it to the next level. He moved to Mumbai with $40 in his pocket and a dream. He got a loan from the bank and got started. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, he took his losses, having to restart a few times with nothing. He told me there were days he worked 20 hours, sleeping on the floor of his ice cream factory with his workers, he couldn’t afford a place of his own because he put everything into the business. Police constantly looking for bribes, mafia dipping their hands Into the ice cream pot, set back after set back. He cried himself to sleep sometimes, ready to quit, to give up. But he held onto the dream, opening his second, then his third shop. He’s now in a position where he doesn’t have to work, he has managers and employees who handle the day to day. He’s 31 years old now, pretty much mission accomplished. He is the ice cream King of Mumbai.

I asked him what’s next, he’s basically the ultimate ice cream champion of the world, where does he go from here? He says he’s happy with where he is at, that life is good, but he is not satisfied. That resonated with me instantly. I feel the same way after a fight, like cool, I won, nice shiny belt or medal, but that’s not it, I’m not done yet. In a few years he’s going to sell the business, his home,car, etc buy a backpack and travel the world. If I didn’t know better, with him being rich and doing martial arts, this guy is on his way to being Batman. Amazing. That’s the secret with the hugely successful types, a hunger for the next step. But let’s not forget; this guy asked to do my laundry. Humility isn’t the right word for this guy, it doesn’t cut it. He’s on another level. This guys story should be in the bible, forget the guys who have God like power, this is a man who came from nothing with a dream and faced setback after setback, triumphing in the face of adversity to reign supreme over all ice cream cones. To add to his character level, he would say no to having his name written in stories. He doesn’t want his name in this blog, doesn’t want recognition for being who he is. He isn’t the ice cream hero Mumbai needs, he’s the one it deserves.
“V” you have my respect and my admiration. If you ever visit the US, you can sleep on my couch, I’ll buy you yogurt-land every night and I’ll have someone do your laundry.
Ous.

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The importance of an alter ego

Pretty much every superhero I can think of has some form of alter ego. Whether it’s who they were before they became a superhero ala batman/Bruce Wayne or a disguise to hide their abilities like Clark Kent/Superman, most superheroes have an alter ego, someone they become when the mask comes off. Those that have superpowers/special abilities and don’t have an alter ego become something else entirely: the super-villain.
Imagine, you wake up, you have the ability to overcome or overpower any man on earth. By force or mental abilities, the world is at your disposal. But you have a bit of character in you, a spark, a jimminey cricket that says to use your powers for the greater good. You help others with your talents, you are a beacon of charity and hope in an otherwise dark and unforgiving world. Go Superyou!
After saving the world/a cat in a tree, from the brink of destruction, you go home to your mansion/apartment, put on your reading glasses, read a chapter in your favorite book while your dog is curled up at your feet. You might even have a family who thinks you just got home from the office. You and the world are at peace, until it isn’t. You’ll always be ready with your cape/cowl and spandex.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

Having these abilities could tempt a man or woman to become the opposite. Why be good when you can control the world? Take what you want when you want. If someone is weaker than you, crush them. The world is yours! That guy has a lot of money, take some. She’s pretty, just overpower her. That line is too big to wait in, cut to the front, what are they going to do about it?
This is the attitude of guys like “the Joker” and “General Zod”. They let their power consume them. Any sense of compassion or humanity has left them and replaced by greed and power. If they want something, nothing can stop them. There is no need for an alter ego at this point, their lives don’t require peace.

We see this on the big screen, books, comics etc. But it’s in the real world too. I’ve known John Koppenhaver for a long time, we both fought in a Mexico based organization years ago. He’s always been a cool guy to be around, constant jokes and an all around nice guy. He’s a hell of a fighter too, no quit in him. His UFC fight with Jared Rollins was legendary, and his latest fight where he went to sleep rather than tap just showed there is no quit in him. He truly is a “War Machine” in the cage.
But their isn’t an off switch with him. He was born John Koppenhaver and became War-Machine. What he did the other night to Christy Mack isn’t the person he used to be. He used his “power” to overcome those without. Whether she was sleeping with another guy or not, you never hit a girl. Since birth that’s been absolute law written in stone for my family. It’s sad to see him caught up in all of this. A person as talented as he is should be fighting in front of a sell out audience on live tv. Instead he’s a fugitive on the run, facing inevitable jail time. All of his talent will be wasted in a cell. A once bright future lost in an act of villainy.
Hearing what Josh Grispi did to his wife just sickens me. Maybe this is my bias but that man has kids, he beat the mother of his children and sent his dog after her. I have no remorse for that guy. He’s the type of person that gives fighters our bad reputation.
As fighters we need to have an alter ego. When we go to the gym or the cage it’s all business, we become animals and tear each other apart. It’s part of our sport. The savage in us should not be exposed to regular people. We need an off switch. When we take our gloves off we have to leave the savage in us at the gym. So many times in public I want to bash peoples faces in for cutting me off, being rude etc. Sometimes I feel like I’m one wrong word away from blowing up on someone. I know for a fact that I could do some serious damage to avg untrained Joe. Lucky I keep it in check, There is an off switch. It’s absolutely necessary as fighters to have an alter ego, for our sanity and for others safety.

Note: I don’t know the full story of what happened, I just know that a woman is in the hospital severely beaten and a once great person will never be the same again. I Hope you find peace Warrior.

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The pursuit of mastery.

The pursuit of mastery.

I remember as a kid when I saw something on tv, I wanted to be that guy. Fireman? Yep. Ninja? Just wait til I get to Japan. General in the Army? Where’s my rifle. Not just tv, places I went too. I’d “pretend” to be it all. One time we did a family trip to sea world, saw professional people swimming with dolphins and whales. At that moment I knew from the bottom of my heart, that was my destiny. But then I got older and discovered how much work it actually took to do something like that. Suddenly it didn’t seem so appealing. You can’t be GREAT at everything.

“What the hell do you mean I can’t be great at everything , (insert inspirational quote about doing impossible)”
You’re probably right, YOU can. But Let me tell you about Michael Jordan, arguably/not really arguable at all, the greatest basketball player of all time. Dude was amazing, broke records and dunked from the free throw line, boom, the greatest. Retires from basketball, decides he wants to play baseball for a bit, not so good at it, like, not at all. Yes he was still awesome for trying, he’s an amazing athlete, but his avg baseball skills did not measure up to his “mastery” of Basketball.
History is full of these people. Just look up any decathlon athlete. They are jacks of all trades but masters of none. They aren’t breaking records in all ten events. Bad ass athletes no doubt, they have to be good at all of the events.
Crossfitters are similar. They have their strong events and their really weak ones, some lift heavy ish but can’t swim to save their lives. They get that though, it’s part of the randomness of the sport. They are trying to master the random, or whatever they tell themselves (haha)
Now to my point!
My news feed is wonderful, lots of awesome people showing off their skills in various walks of life. Hairdressers like Gerry Brooker showing off their amazing prom client do’s, master chefs like justin Lyon cooking up amazing meals for his clients, photographers like my friend Aga bringing beauty to otherwise ugly object, like me haha.

But then we get to the bullshit. Why is everyone posting about “meal prep” and “gains”. Posing in front of mirrors like a Gahd damned bodybuilder. I’m constantly face palming when I look at my feed. Why is everyone trying to highlight fitness and exercise, when honestly it all looks like the same shit. Is it REALLY your passion? I get it, we all should exercise and eat healthy, but why are you suddenly a fitness coach selling products? Inspirational quotes with your selfie? How about go do something great first. What happened to that thing you are really good at? You’re going to trade a mastery of something for a half assed effort in the fitness industry? What’s going on here?
I remember when I trained at tiger Muay Thai in Thailand, there was a massive guy, who under the guidance of Thai hulk, a bad ass bodybuilder, lost a ton of weight. Next thing I know this same weight loss guy (but still tremendously heavy, obese) was training people. Blew my mind. I get it, you want to help people, fair enough. But that’s when you point them in the right direction, like to the Thai hulk, a MASTER of his craft. Look I’m sure I could cut someone’s hair, definitely could buzz it, but I’m not cutting hair. I’m going to point them to my favorite barber/hair stylist. I can’t do it all, and I’m ok with that.
When I was a kid I realized I couldn’t be great at it all. I’m an adult now, I can’t be a ninja warrior yoga master painting actor modeling baseball playing and a fighter at the same time. I’m good at this fighting stuff, I want mastery! I spend hour after hour trying to get better and put off everything else. I would love to do other stuff like bodybuilding or crossfit competitions, but I know the preparation for that would take away from my martial training. Why the hell would I give up my pursuit of mastery to be mediocre at a few things? I want my black belt in bjj and to kick peoples asses. How cool is it going to be in thirty years when I can show my grand kids all the cool shit I won. Do you think your grand kids are going to think it’s cool that you quit what you were good at to do half ass personal training or amateur bodybuilding?
I donno, call me crazy but the thought of being a master at something is exciting. It’s going to take me a lifetime to get there, but that’s what makes it worth getting. Can we all stop trying to BE what’s popular? If every person that loses weight is now a personal fitness/life coach, it’s diluting the product. This goes with BJJ too. Lots of bullshit teachers popping up. I wish I had a sponsor that sent me to schools to debunk these supposed “black belts” that are popping up. Why am I hating on people? Because these people are taking away from the legitimacy of our sport! If anyone can have a black belt, why the hell would you want it.
Listen, I’m pleading with you. Stop hand-standing, everyone’s doing it, remember “planking”, same shit. If you lost 10lbs, don’t call yourself a fitness pro. If you just got your blue belt, don’t open up a bjj school, and if you’re a three week white belt, don’t hashtag bjjforlife because I might run into you someday.
Pursue mastery in your PASSION, there is something you are exceptionally gifted at. Go for it and don’t be distracted or tempted by the popular stuff on the sides. Food prepping is a chore, no idea why it’s suddenly a thing, especially when you’re pounding beers on the weekend, defeats the purpose doesn’t it. Maybe I’ll start videoing when I vacuum the floor because it’s the same thing. 5 lbs on your mediocre max means nothing to anyone except you, give yourself a high five and carry on. Show off YOUR talent, the mediocre is worthless filler.
When I meet someone, I want to talk about something that makes their eyes light up, an idea, a plan etc of what they want to be, the thing they are passionate about. You can’t legitimately tell me that your mediocre gains are your passion. It’s like watching a B rated movie, kinda is a movie but not even close at the same time.

Before I get destroyed by the fitness maniacs, good for you and your weight loss. If that’s the field you want to pursue, awesome. Consider who got you there, what their qualifications were. Just make sure you’re good at what you do, taking someone’s health into your hands is a big responsibility, make sure you’re qualified.

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Anderson Silva and the Achilles Syndrome

Before we talk about last night, lightning striking twice, bad luck etc. let’s talk about another hero of mine that I’ve always looked up to; Achilles, hero of the Greek Army and all around virtuoso of the battle field,struck down in his prime.

My old man would read me various books as a kid, one of them was called Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton. It’s a very good intro to Greek mythology, outlining the more well known myths and legends including the Trojan war. Achilles was my favorite character. He was peerless on the battlefield, always one step ahead of everyone. His speed, agility etc couldn’t be matched and made the rest of the soldiers seem slow in comparison. When he is reveling in battle, a chance arrow is shot, one in a million, and hits him in the leg. Boom there goes what should have been histories greatest warrior, now remembered as a weak tendon in the leg.
Now back to the present. Anderson Silva is the best fighter of our generation. He’s not only fought and beat the best in the division but has done so in seemingly easy fashion. He makes his opponents look silly, seeming bored even in his fights, dancing and goofing around in the most inappropriate of times, punches and kicks whizzing by. He went too far when he fought Weidman and his antics cost him the belt after being caught by a vicious left hand.

Last nights fight was supposed to be different. We were supposed to see a hungry and motivated legend that would redeem himself. Midway through the second round he threw the same chopping leg kick that he had thrown countless other times and was checked by a well timed Weidman shin. Silvas leg shattered and he crumpled into a heap. Everyone watching was shocked, not believing their own eyes.
The part that saddens me the most about this is not that he lost. It’s that he’s going to be remembered not for his amazing fight prowess or uncanny abilities but for his one unlucky kick he threw that ended his career. If you type the words Anderson Silva right now into a google search, “broken leg” will pop up immediately with it. Not greatest fighter of all time or longest reigning champion, just broken leg or some form of the sentence.

Instead of being remembered for being the greatest warrior on the battlefield, Achilles is remembered as the one that was killed by an arrow to the leg. He didn’t get to die on his shield as they say, he wasn’t beset on all sides by warriors, taking as many as possible with him to Tartarus. No, he was simply shot down by a lucky arrow. Fate is a cruel mistress, fans of our sport even more cruel. At Silvas age, who knows if it’s too late for him to rise from this, making a comeback. For Anderson Silvas peace of mind, his families, and his legacy, I wish him a speedy recovery.

Post script: no amount of calcium, tree kicking, or shin conditioning is going to help you prevent that happening. That same injury happens all the time in Muay Thai fights where kicks are far more numerous. It’s just never happened on that big of a stage. Hope for the best and chok dee when you throw kicks!

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Accomplishing the New Years resolution

I’ve been hearing a very pessimistic view from a lot of people about setting a New Years resolution. Like why would you set a goal for the end of the year instead of just starting today or stating the percentage rate of successful resolutions (8%). I get it, people like deadlines, it helps us get motivated. So people try things, fail, bend the goal, make a new one etc. it’s natural. The cool thing about humans is our ability to overcome, by trial and error. We fall, get up, fall again, but eventually we reach the top of the mountain. It’s what makes us so awesome! Anyway, enough about us, let’s talk about why we fail.
So you want to quit smoking, Great! I can’t stand cigarette smoke so the less of you the better. You smoke your last cigarette New Year’s Eve, boom easy. The next morning you wake up and you feel fine. The hours at work begin to take their toll. You start stressing out, the day is rough. Forget it, you go to the store, buy a new pack. You’ll start quitting after this pack.
Is it because your addiction is stronger than your will power? Do you love these death sticks more than you love your health? I doubt it. It happens, old habits die hard. Don’t beat yourself up about it, 92% of people failed along with you. You aren’t alone.
So here’s where I think (most) people that set resolutions go wrong; lack of preparation. You waited until the very last second, quitting cold turkey. A week before you should have been wheening yourself from it, one less cigarette a day or whatever system works for you. I’m not sure how it works, but a gradual decrease in anything is better than quitting altogether. The success rate between the two is night and day.

Preparation and planning is the key. If you set a dead line for yourself, great! Regardless of the day, you need to plan well in advance for whatever it is you plan on quitting/doing. Research what has worked for others, what didn’t, and what works best for your lifestyle. If you want to climb a mountain on the other side of the world, start saving well in advance, book flights ahead of time, make a schedule etc because before you know it a year is up and things can change at any given time. No warrior worth his salt goes into battle unprepared.
Another big one is weight loss. I feel for people with this goal because it’s such a hard one and most of the time it’s genetic, not a cake addiction. With media shoving models and athletes down our throats, we have a very twisted sense of what is ideal. I want to look like Arnold in his heyday, but I know that’s pretty unrealistic for my lifestyle. My best advice for people that want to change their look is to research nutrition first, make your own meals and then when that is on point, start hitting the gym. I don’t care if it’s Zumba or crossfit, something is better than sitting on the couch, wishing your weight away.
So in closing, tell the pessimists to suck it and get after it. Start your New Years resolution preparation today, it’s not too late. Whether it’s to stop smoking, traveling to a foreign country, give up binge drinking, I guarantee there is a method that will work for you IF it’s important to you. If it’s weight loss or muscle building, come see me at Guerilla BJJ or Bodies By Amorim. I’ll help you help yourself. My resolution? UFC or bust.
To the death!

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Bellator fight camp

Weight cutting/body transformation week 1
I’ve been fighting for a long time, not counting the years of wrestling and boxing I did before. I turned pro in 2005 at age 18. For as long as I could remember I’ve been punching and kicking imaginary opponents/world champions.To this day when I shadow box I still do the same thing. When I first started out fighting, I’d be scheduled for a fight a month in advance, then I’d start training hard, sparring would intensify and cardio would be kicked up a notch. Then I’d fight and my opponent and I would be terribly gassed by the end of the fight. I assumed that was part of fighting.
Then the UFC started doing the countdowns, the training camps of champions and challengers leading up to the big fights. I saw guys like Sean Sherk and GSP doing all these crazy exercises and really training at a different level than what I had seen. They were in terrific shape, going 100% the entire fight and still looking strong after the. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even understand how or where to begin. I changed my ways a bit after that, doing more cardio in-between fights, cleaning up my diet a little. But it wasn’t enough.
A couple of years ago I was signed to a Bellator contract, basically the number two organization behind the UFC. In order to compete with these guys I had to take my training to another level. Not just physically but mentally. A lot of people don’t understand how much ring jitters and anxiety plays such a pivotal role in the fight business. I had to step up my game in every aspect.
I hired a great mental coach in Englishman Scott Stevenson, a sports psychology professor and all around mental Jedi. The guy knows his stuff, working with many top athletes from around the world. After many long sessions and conversations, I can attest that I have less anxiety in life and fighting, as well as not having had a Snickers bar in over a year.
Alongside Scott I worked with a couple of fitness gurus who implement Martin Rooneys Training For Warriors, a great all around program that took my fitness up to the next level. Being strong or good isn’t enough in mma, you have to have a complete package.
Since coming back to the states I’ve teamed up with a great BJJ professor, Dave Camarillo black belt and co founder of Guerilla jiu Jitsu, Matt Darcy. My technique is going through the roof and I’m actually applying proper technique, something I neglect by using more athleticism.
Last but not least my new strength and conditioning coaches, Travis and Kevin, owners of Bodies by Amorim. Since coming to them I feel like I’m going to break people. With all the tire flipping and sledgehammer swinging I’ve been doing, my body has never looked better. I’ve always had a chubbier build, strong but not ripped like others in my profession. The only time I’d see abs was the day of weigh ins. Not anymore. For the first time in my life I have a six pack. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made.
So for this camp I did a 12 week periodization training and I’m coming into my last 4 weeks. I won’t tell you about the technical sides of my training, that stuff is a secret. The first four weeks I did Olympic power lifting, basically low reps heavy weight, maximum strength. I got huge! I bulked up to about 190. The next phase I did functional weight lifting. The movement under load, so still heavy weights but more movement involved, like weighted lunges, more functional type lifts to get my power up.
These four weeks I’m going to strictly be doing conditioning, body weight exercises. Today I weighed in at 182, I’ve lost a little bit of muscle mass in the last 4 weeks from not lifting as heavy, a natural and beneficial side effect. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been going into these last four weeks. Every week I’ll be documenting my conditioning, my diet/portion control and body weight. I’m excited for oct 11th, the fighter on that day will be leaps and bounds above that cocky 18 year old kid that was in over my head when i started. Join me in my journey, fly with me. It’s time to Rise.

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Nightmares

I’ve had some pretty bad nightmares in my time, we all have. Sometimes there is a monster, others we are falling. The one with the plane crash always scares me because I fly so much. But there is one that has haunted me so many night since march. It’s the one where I go into the cage after a perfect training camp, I feel great. Then suddenly after a little bouncing on my feet, my leg pops. I’ve torn my hamstring, but I’m there, I fight anyway. Two minutes later the agony of my leg is unbearable. They carry me out of the cage in a stretcher. I wake up, I feel the pain in my leg, I toss and turn a bit, it’s real, it happened. A deep sorrow and depression threaten to overcome me.
Weeks went by before I could walk normal again. It’s been months and I still can’t run. I sat on my couch for three weeks before I got up and did anything. I began to understand why samurais commit seppuku upon defeat, the shame of defeat is too much. No amount of sessions with my mental coach Scott Stevenson were going to pull me from this. Xbox and subsistence eating were all I did, I wanted to escape. Bad.
I received an email one day. Do you want to fight the Egyptian again in may? YES. I went to Bjj class with Prof Olavo that day, I’m terrible with a gi but it’s the only thing my leg could handle. I went everyday for weeks. It was all I could do between upper body workouts with Mark Mariani and woody at TFW(training for warriors). Anger and self loathing drive me where my body couldn’t, I didn’t want to be the person that had just lost. I couldn’t live a full life, I was a shell of my former self, no superman at all.
By the time the fight rolled around I was as ready as I could be. Sparring had gone well, with rob lesita and the leone bros, and giom and Olavo overseeing everything, giving advice where they could. My leg isnt healed, not even close. I couldn’t kick, explosive movements hurt. I’m sick with a chest cold, breathing is difficult. Doesn’t matter, either live in shame or die on your shield. The shield it was.
The day of the fight I was a nervous wreck. For those who have never fought professionally, it’s not the fight that scares us, it’s the unknown. We don’t mind getting hit, it’s in the back of our minds. Anxiety is powerful, the waiting saps our energy. Even the best fighters like GSP have pre fight jitters, it’s part of the sport, it’s what separates us from bar room fighters (that and a bit of training). The internal demons are strong, they attack all of your weaknesses at once. Doubt creeps in easily.
The warm up is good, I had veteran Ray Elbe (recently moved to Kuwait to teach Bjj at Kuwait Combat Athletics) in my corner. I’m glad he was there, his experience helped a ton. Blake Grice was the referee, an experienced ref from the states. This made me feel a lot better, the last fight saw me get soccer kicked on the ground with barely a warning for my opponent.
My opponent is confident now, having beat both Ray and me (both of us took the fights injured, hubris). He has a right to be. He doesn’t respect jiu jitsu.
The fight starts, gloves touch, I shoot right out of the gate, taking the fight to the cage. My nerves were running wild, I’m sure I look calm but inside I’m churning. I secure the takedown after various punches and a knee, landing in side control. After a few transitions I take my opponents back with ease, a testament to my months in the gi that I had previously neglected for Nogi training. I secured the gable grip choke (variation of the rear naked) and my opponent taps, I hold until Blake stops me, a habit picked up from opponents tapping and protesting/acting like they didn’t. Fight until the bell rings or the ref stops you is a good rule of thumb.
I do the normal pre fight interview except with the Kuwaiti flag draped over my shoulders (they make me feel more at home than the US, we aren’t a loyal people anymore ). Fights over, I’m the welterweight champion with a pretty new belt. My soul is cleansed, I don’t have a dark shadow that will haunt me for the rest of my days. My heart can be happy again. I can lift my head up. I owe my daughter lost time. I’ve neglected her these past few months, anger and shame drove me insane. It’s time to go to the beach and build her castles to destroy again. Good days are ahead. The sun is back, it’s time to smile again.
Thanks to all that put up with me and believed in me, I appreciate you all,will see you soon. Shukran.

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