Its been 2 years now, as I lay on my bed. The curtains drawn to let the sun in. The tulips bend to gaze outside the window while the curtains swing in the gentle breeze while I'm still lying there, frozen. Looks like Renee stayed the night, her bag and shawl on the chair. I guess she's gone to freshen up after sleeping over. I miss her.

The memory though painful plagues me everyday as I lie on my bed with the monitor deciphering my every heart beat, respiratory rate and so on. The night, the car, the street, the drink, all flash with the last flashback leaving me here at John Hopkins, the same place I had been to when Renee was born.

I guess my carelessness has troubled my poor baby, but she forgives me for the same. I strained to listen to what she said when it all happened. Her prayer, urging God to take pity on me and to give her back her father. I wished I could caress her hair and tell her everything would be okay. But I couldn't.

My room, is pretty bland save the flowers and the brown sofa. The bed is hard to say the least, its hard exterior covered by the blue dotted sheet. I can't say much about the floor. Haven't set foot on it in the past two years. The TV blares on, Renee set it to the news for me, even though she hates watching it herself.

Everything seemed peaceful, Renee and me, but when would I return back home with her. Renee comes back. There are tears in her eyes. Poor baby, my baby, I love you. The doctor and the nurse follows. They say their sorry, but for what? And then it hits me, they are going to take me off the ventilator.

Suddenly fear grips me, how cant they? I need to live, if not for myself at least for Renee. She comes closer and hugs me, I scream, but all that comes out is silence. The nurse inches closer, the drips are the first to stop. Slowly and steadily they stop the machine.

And all I can do is close my eyes all the time screaming and bawling inside like a spoilt child, wanting to live, wanting to walk free, wanting to be with my baby. But alas all I can do, is lie frozen. With the monitor now silent and my spirit overlooking the entire scene.
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At the end of the lane

After the tiresome day with the sun weighing me down, its rays trying to pin me in the eyes through the holes in my cap. My jacket and pant, a gift from the generous bhaisaab who gave me this olive green jacket and pant. The black banyan torn and worn, another treasure find at the dump. To top it all, the skull cap, my prize trophy, won in a fight, totally worth the scar it emblazoned across my left cheek. Its not really seen though, my beard, rough and scraggy metastasised over the ugly crater.

Pulling out the cigarette from my pocket which I stole from the kid at the other street, bloody rascals. Roaming in their shorts, barely having felt a woman's warmth and acting like big gang lords, with beedies and cigarettes, coughing and gagging. I reach for the matches in my bag. A big foreign one, I was told, light brown with LV written all over. Wonder what it means? LV?

A dastardly dog picks at my stick and I hurl abuses and watch it run away. Shifting to cross leg, I inhale. The smoke fills my mouth, my blood absorbing it while it stays and through the side it blows away, the wind grabbing it and running like a thief.

I sit there, at the end of the lane, preparing myself for the long journey. The city's ends miraged, by the damn sun...
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Midsummer Night's Dream

Having finished work late, I decided to grab something to eat at the local vendor. Eyeing the delicacies neatly placed in their silver platters and lit to brilliance under the yellow fluorescent tube, what caught my eye were the cheese sticks designed to look as gingerbread men and hence decorated ironically with lots of colored sprinkles. They came with toothpicks which served both as walking sticks for the men and as the road for them to tread on.

After deciding on a ghee filled croissant, I pay him the 20 rupees and carefully manoeuvre the slippery delight lest I loose the precious golden liquid. He then tells me that his place actually caters to many IT people like me and that it would set me back by a measly 70 rupees to eat at his joint for a year. I step back to see if the offer was worth its salt while I bit into the croissant.

She then steps next to me, eyeing my eat and then proceeds to ask the vendor for the same, both in English followed by Tamil. I then turn to see who had ordered the same dish as mine and she was peculiar like someone I had seen before, someone from my school days.

She was dark. Her hair cut in a cute bob. Her eyes neatly kajaled. But then her hand approaches my croissant which I've only eaten a little off the side while she breaks a big piece. As she unceremoniously steals what is mine the ghee oozes from its doughy cavity I "aaeehh" in defiance as she consumes it.

A lady clad in a sari sitting on the bench close to us all this while quite suddenly speaks "Do you know what you have done? Only married people are supposed to eat from the same plate." "What??" I scream...

Sleepily I type this, my myalgic fingers tiring to stop and go back back to sleep but I continue word by word spell checked and full stopped...
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I'd like to thank....

Like the billion or so people of the world who crave soo much for the coveted Oscar, I too am one of them. Just like tales of yore, mine too starts when I was small and then exposed to the glitzy world of Indian award shows with its dances, songs, amazingly long speeches and beautiful heroines especially Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen, both of whom I admire a lot and still do.

The next step is practising for the so called 'imaginary' award show, which includes the whole jing bang of seeing clips of the nominees, then then announcement (well in my case it was Aishwarya Rai who announced my name :) and then walking up to the stage, kissing her on the cheek, probably throwing in a few words in Tulu in her ears while I'm kissing her cheek and then launching into a Caesar like speech with my mothers hairbrush in hand.

"I'd like to thank God, for whom without which this wouldn't be possible. My parents and siblings for believing in me. All my fans who appreciate my work and of course the esteemed judges who deemed it worthy."

Yeah I know its a drag and a bunch of cliches separated by full stops but that's what I had grown up hearing and rehearsing and believing would come true someday.

I'm sitting here right now watching the Oscars which was ceremoniously downloaded by my video shop wallah for monetary pleasure for suckers like me who are attracted by bright and shiny things. At first its the "Whose wearing what?" which in itself is fascinating.

However its kinda boring that the men just have to manage between a tux and a suit. For my big win (high hopes!!) I decided I'm gonna wear a bandgala probably by JJ Vallaya which is probably the only guy I know who makes it since I saw it in an ad in the magazine. To go with probably a black Dior watch which I still remember from an Outlook magazine which I promised myself I'd buy with my own salary. And then shoes anyone will do really. Not much worried about those. I had actually read in a magazine that women judge men by their shoes. Wonder how true that is. But I guess the specialists who buy them in such a large number you'd figure that they'd have to have some clue as to what they are doing.

And then there was the dream of actually hosting the event, but that soon died off when i realised what a headache that must be to keep it lively and funny at the same time when ladies are rushing to have gowns changed and the men look lazily on trying to spot a wardrobe Mal-function.

But one thing which seems to get me all the time is the gifts the stars get at the end of the show... I mean prime property on the moon... who can beat that!!!

Hmmm some day some day I tell myself..,. I'm gonna be up there...
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The moon clad in her burqa
Embellished with the stars
Watches through her veil
The city of Al-Qasbah

Candles housed in clay lanterns
Their flames quivering in the breeze
The majlis, fragranced with myrrh
Hookahs, wine and grapes

As Ziryab strums the Oud
His mellifluous voice
Bewitches the guests
Their bodies, inebriated with myrrh

The Bait ul- Samira
With its twisted maze
Fools many with its demented charm
But its her that they all come to see.

Sabih announces her arrival
With the Darbukah
His each note followed by bells
As she enters

She raises her veil
Her fair skin and dark eyes
Pleasing to ones carnal desires
She begins the raqs sharqi

With the chiming zilz
And the flowing silk
She draws the hungry eyes
Deeper into the abyss... Of the Qasbah
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It doesnt have to happen in India only!!!

In a day and age when recession hits major countries around the globe, India sits back and relaxes in the afterglow of the Oscars as it sees many of its citizens getting the prestigious Golden man award. But after this email that I had received I was wondering if the world still lives in the delusion of India being the land of mysticism and snake charmers... Read on to know what I mean...

The answers are actual responses to the questions posted on a website by the people outside India planning a visit to India..

Q: Does it ever get windy in India? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see elephants in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Delhi to Goa- can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand kms, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in India? (Sweden)
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in India? Can you send me a list of them in Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in India? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. In-di-a is that big triangle in the middle of the Pacific & Indian Ocean which does not.. oh forget it. .. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Goa. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in India? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into India? ( UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Indiana Pacers matches schedule? (France)
A: Indiana is a state in the Unites States of.oh forget it. Sure, the Indiana Pacers matches are played every Tuesday night in Goa, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in India? ( UK )
A: You're a British politician, right?

Q: Are there supermarkets in Bangalore, and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in India who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Indian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: Do you have perfume in India? ( France)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in India? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in India? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.

Q: Can I see Taj Mahal anytime? (Italy)
A: As long as you are not blind, you can see it anytime.

Q: Do you have Toilet paper? (USA)
A: No, we use sand paper. (we have different grades)
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Wat you are saying, I'm not understanding...

"I'm feeling full right now" - No, not really, its just that I don't like what I'm eating so i feign a full appetite for now.... but I'm always ready for dessert :)

"Uhuh" - This may or may not be true at times. I can simply uhuh whatever you say without having a clue of the on going situation.

"Ya, ill do it later" - Again variable depending on the score on my laziness scale.

"That looks good on you" - Kind of a cliche but works wonders...

"Im sorry could you repeat it, I didn't quiet get it" - Hah I wasnt even paying attention to get it in the first place, this is usually used at professors since many at times I have no clue as to why I'm here, what I'm doing here etc etc...

" " - There's a whole lot of stuff I wanna ask patients apart from the boring necessary details like when do you go fishing? is the catch better in the morning or in the evening? what special food did your mom bring for you today? and soo much more but unfortunately i have a language barrier... Kannada : (

"Oh puhleeeese" - Something my friend Trishul with an h still says and I follow.

"Bloody beep beep beep"- not often said thankfully. But when I do start, it goes on and on...

"If only..." - associated with both the good and the bad alike... I wish i could eat all the food in the world and not become fat or I wish he/she bloody choked on something or tripped and fell the whole stairways down....

"I'm bored" - Probably the truest and most often said of the lot... hence the post : )
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Result : Fail

Yes... that's what it said at the bottom of the report sheet. Fail as in failure to cope up with the rest... Fail as in unable to fill my answer sheets with precious mental vomit... Fail as in being separated from the rest... Yes, that's what I felt and repeatedly told myself in the likely events to follow my arrival back in college.

Whining during prayers is also another thing I've noticed I do. Why him Jesus? I'm sure I'm better than HIM. But no, He never listens and I'm still stuck in my Failure's paradise.

"Hey, we're sorry about what happened. How you feeling now?" the pity talk was inevitable. They didn't know what to say, I didn't know how to react. So i guess we were all in the same boat except mine would take off 6 months later. Many tears and advise later I said to myself "To hell with them, I can manage. All I need to do right now is study real hard and make it through."

And fortunately that's what happened. Four years down the line, its results time for the "regulars" and they each pass with their steths proudly hung around their napes, I stand and watch them. "Why couldn't I be there?" If only this was a stupid nightmare, I could pinch myself free from. But no, this my friend was reality, smacking me right in my cherubic ( well depression does arouse hunger, I'm sure you'll are well versed with that physiological phenomenon) face.

So i thought there must me others who have had been in the same position, so i browse the net for quotes which they would have inevitably given the secret of getting over failure. So this is what i found

Ashley Montague: The deepest human defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming and what one has in fact become.

Elaine Maxwell: My will shall shape the future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man's doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.

Yes i know. Both very encouraging and very happy go lucky but not the case when you experience it.

I guess I should get to studies now. The burden increasing and my mind space decreasing...

Aaaarrrggghhh.... Jus pass me already...
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