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Saturday, April 24

Of Birds and Girls Alike


What was that? It almost sounded like…


There it was again. This time louder!

I turned around to find a girl who was about to say something, but stopped midway and smiled at me. I found myself smiling back without realizing why. She was wearing a pair of grey slacks and a green t-shirt that said ‘Bird Vs Beast’ and had an intricate drawing of a what I assumed was a falcon and a dragon fighting each other, enveloping a solemn Yin-Yang that was probably saying ‘What the fuck am I doing here?’ She also wore yellow plastic hoop earrings and a tiny nose ring on a tiny nose. I had never seen her before or knew who she was, but she looked cute.

“I’m sorry, but do I know you?”, I said squeakily, trying really hard not to sound shy at the same time as trying really hard to sound confident.

“No, I don’t think we’ve met. I just moved into the city.”

“But, how did you know my name?”

She looked puzzled. “What is your name?”

“It’s Patrick…”

“Oh… Oh! I said Patridge! I saw you staring at that bird for so long with such a serious face that I only assumed you were wondering what kind of a bird that was.” She said pointing at a weird looking bird and laughing, showing off the dimples that had suddenly blemished her flat cheek. “We really ought to put up a sign somewhere”, she then said, looking around for a signpost she already knew wasn’t there.

I was clearly at a loss for words because I was talking to a pretty girl around the same age as me and I had just walked carelessly into an open trap where every passing second seemed determined to make me appear more awkward and embarrassed than the previous one. So I decided to change the subject.

“Do you work here?”

“Kind of. I actually own this little bird sanctuary. I’ve had it for 8 years now, ever since the guy who used to run this place earlier, decided to pack his bags one day and move to Kenya.”

“That’s interesting. Kenya, I mean. Wow! That’s really far away.” I said, trying unsuccessfully to keep the conversation from dying out. I had nothing to do for the next 12 hours and I realized that it was too long a time to kill, in solitary anticipation of the next day.

She remained silent for a while. “Can I ask you a question?”, she said and continued without waiting for a response, “What are you doing here at 2 pm, on a hot Thursday afternoon, wearing a tie, and shoes so well polished that I can actually see my face in them?”

I wasn’t surprised, I had already gotten strange looks from passersby as I walked across the park, past kids who were basking in the rebellious victory of skipping school and deciding to spontaneously make out on every standing/sitting/lying object in their path, past old women who had nothing else to do on a Thursday afternoon, past a happy sleeping security guard who looked like he’d eaten the best lunch of his life.

I looked out of place, but given the circumstances I don’t think I would have changed into something more casual for a walk in the park.

Given the circumstances, I wouldn’t even have been at the park on a hot Thursday afternoon.

She stood there with her black eyes staring listlessly at me for some sort a reaction and for some reason I did not want to lie to her. I felt calm in this strange place, among the company of birds and strange girls alike. And given my track record of random encounters with strangers, I knew with certainty that I would never again see her in my life.

“I quit my job today.”, I said sincerely after taking a deep breath and deciding to open up.

“At the bank?”, she asked coyly.

Unbelievable! The guess was spot-on! But the conversation was not going as I would’ve hoped. I was looking forward to having a serious conversation about where my life was headed and this girl was zoning in on ridicule, taking me back to my embarrassing school days.

I must have looked offended because she then said, “That’s cool!”

“Is it really?”

“No, I mean it’s cool that you’ve quit now! What happened though?”

I spoke slowly, drawing words from the back of my head, conjuring up the images that I had buried deep within, under layer upon layer of anger, that had made me a completely different and volatile person.

But all I could muster was a feeble,, “I was just tired of it all.”

I said it like I was wheezing.

Apparently I didn’t really want to talk about it, ever.

“I understand. So what next?”, she said and I felt like a great weight had just been lifted off my shoulder.

“Oh, I don’t know. I want to keep my options open. Maybe I could open up a little bird sanctuary? And for a change, actually charge some sort of an entry fee?”

I am flirting with her.

“Yes! There’s a fantastic career move for a guy who couldn’t identify a patridge!”, she said laughing.

Again with the ridicule, I thought. Strangely enough, I actually felt drawn towards her, every time she openly humiliated me. This wasn’t like high school at all.

“Yeah, I was kidding! I’m not really a big fan of birds. I just walked into this part of the park because it was the only place that had no people around.”, I said, immediately regretting not filtering my thoughts before speaking.

I realized that I had just told her that her little bird paradise sucked. But she stood there, with a perfect balance of nonchalance and irritation, and nodded her head, gesturing me to keep going.

“Well, to be honest, I don’t have a plan. Quitting the bank job was a first step of sorts. What lies ahead of me is a blank white sheet.”, I said, stopping before I could say something corny.

“But there’s got to be something you like doing, right?”

“Lots of things! But none of them are destined to make me any money.”

She smiled and said, “Screw that! I don’t make much, but I love what I’m doing. And that’s the most important thing in life. Twenty years down the line, when I look back at my life, I’ll realize that I have been happy throughout.”

“I’d like to believe you’re right, but I have to experience it to believe it, I guess.”

“Wow! Look at that view. The sun’s coming down and it looks beautiful. Everything is bathed in it’s glow, a burnt orange.”

It really did!

She stared at me long and hard for a while, and then took 3 steps forward until she was level with my face, and her gaze never left my face. It wasn’t sudden, but it was enough to make me uncomfortable at least. I finally gave in and asked her, smiling a bit, “What are you doing?”

“I’m looking at you, silly! You know, you aren’t as tall as you seem.”

“It’s usually the other way around”, I said in a slightly offended tone, although I didn’t really care because she was standing so close to me. I could smell the hint of whatever conditioner she’d used on her hair and it was heavenly, at least when the wind was blowing towards me.

“Well, in case you’re interested, I have an opening here, at the bird sanctuary.”

I laughed for a bit.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I think we have established that I’m not really a bird-person. I guess I’m more of a beast?”, I said subtly hinting at her t-shirt war montage and feeling stupid a second later because it was cheesy, and thankfully lost in the conversation.

She sighed. It was a long, deep sigh to clarify to me that it was completely fake. And then she spoke.

“What does a girl have to do to give a guy her number?”

“Oh!”, I exclaimed, stumbling for words, knowing fully well I couldn’t say anything to escape from this situation, unscathed. I didn’t care though, because in front of me was this really pretty girl, full of charm and wit. A combination that’s almost extinct in this commercial sell-out of a city. And she was into me!

The next few minutes were a blur and I remember walking away from her after, with a weird warm feeling in my heart. Or maybe it was the scrap of paper in my pocket with her digits. The morbidity of the day’s events had long been forgotten and I was only looking forward to getting to know her. Whatever her name was!

Wow! I didn’t even ask her for her name! I am really bad at this!, I thought to myself.

“PATRIDGE!”, she screamed from far behind, laughing uncontrollably.

This time, I just smiled to myself. I didn’t look back.

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Saturday, August 22

I had a dream. It was surreal. It was real.

The content below is a first-person narration from my point of view, as I woke up one morning with scattered thoughts, and threaded all the wisps of memory together to form something I never want to forget.

I've heard that the power of imagination is scary. And I'm translating it to prose. And will forever do so.


I'm blind. It takes time for my eyes to get adjusted to the light in the dead of the night. It's surprisingly bright for a sepia toned dream. For a second I almost think I'm wide awake, thinking about my past.

'Something is familiar about this place', I tell myself. It feels like I've been here more often than necessary. It's a doorstep. And I'm sitting on it.

As the light slowly fades away, I begin to recognise where I am. An old apartment building, which almost looks defunct now. I still cannot figure out which year it is. And because it's a dream, I don't even care. I can hear a lot of noise around me. In spite of the desolate ambience the place bears, it feels like there are a lot of people milling about.

I'm outside the very house I used to live in, in the early nineties. And I hear a girl's voice next to me. She's sitting next to me on the doorstep. I don't know how I didn't notice her before, even though I'm already in the middle of a conversation with her.

I'd like to hope she's pretty, but I'm not allowed to see her face. I know it's as easy as just looking at her, but I'm unable to. She has a nice voice though, and that calms me down enough to not bother about who she is or where she came from. She has a soft voice and breathes words into my ears. The serene monotone is resonant with a lifetime of patience. She's a listener. And it reassures me, even though I have nothing to tell her.

We sit in silence, barring the incessant murmur of voices that I haven't been able to shake off since the dream began. Her head is leaned on my shoulder and I hear a sigh. All of a sudden, the door opens and I witness a torrential downpour of wails and laments. That's when I realise someone is dead.

It's clearly a time and place for mourning. Everybody sits brooding, shrouded in a cloak of obscurity, hiding from what I can only assume is fate. 'I'm afraid it's a little too late for that', I tell them, in my mind. I still cannot recognize anyone. The reason could perhaps be that I am not really going to be thrilled to find someone I know, amongst the weeping crowd.

“He's dead”, she says. The woman, who I assume to be the mother of the person who died, has just walked up to me with her arms open, not in an embrace, but in a way beggars ask for alms. I'm queasy and ask the obvious question.

'How did it happen?' I still have no idea who the deceased is, but I realise that it is too late for such a question to seem appropriate.

'He was just taking a shit. And he died.'

I'm aghast, both at her incredulous use of the word 'shit' and at how my dream was taking such a bizarre turn.

I stutter, unsure of what to say or do.

'I'm sorry', I murmur.

I'm ushered out by the girl because she knows I'm uneasy and she says so. We walk right upto the top of the winding stairs.

As far as I can recollect, the apartment I used to live in did not have a long winding staircase. This is a different place, from a different memory. And that's when I hear someone groan.

We look down and find a woman working her way up. It's looks like quite a struggle. The stairs are really steep. The woman is really large. In fact, the more I look at her, the more I come to the conclusion that this woman could easily be the biggest woman I have ever seen. She scorns every time she looks up at us peeping down at her.

She heaves herself over the steps with surprising gait and I'm half-scared because I expected her to lumber along at a pace reserved for crippled people. I suddenly don't want her to come up. She frightens me. She trails all the way to the final landing, cocks her head to one side and looks keenly at the last flight of stairs that separates us and her. It seems like an eternity. She smiles. In the way a predator smiles to keep his prey calm and relaxed. It creeps me out.

And then the old woman gives us an exasperated look.

'It's too much', she says.

She looks tired and on the verge of giving up. I feel a tiny bit victorious and I'm not ashamed of it. She trudges down the stairs. The girl giggles. I shoot her a silencing look, which makes her laugh even more. I am not sure if it was the look on my face that prompted the loud, raucous laughter, or if she just did not like being told what to do.

She grabs my hand and runs up to the roof. I protest all the way, even though I realise I'm sprinting at an unbelievable pace. We arrive at the top, a little out of breath.

'Let's do it!', she says.

My face is as blank as it can get.

What is 'it'?

She walks to the short wall overlooking the road and shows me what 'it' is. She wants to jump.

She is still laughing from before. I'm a bit annoyed to discover that the quiet girl I liked has now dissolved into complete mayhem.

'Someone will catch us', she says, smiling reassuringly, and jumps.

I don't scream. I run to the edge because I'm curious to find out if she was telling the truth.

She had a parachute. I never knew!

I watch her lithe frame float it's way down to the black road. I check myself thoroughly and am a bit relieved to find that I do not have a parachute. I make the trek back to the doorstep in solitude.

I'm back at 'home'. But there's nobody here, except for two people I assume to be my parents. I still cannot see anyone's face or features clearly. There are also 2 policemen and a dog.

They are here to investigate the murder, I'm told. I have no knowledge of a murder, but I don't want to get in anybody's way. I act like nobody's there and walk towards what I think is my bedroom. I pick up an old shirt. I think it's mine, even though I have never seen it before. There's some dried up blood on it, but I don't really care.

I walk back to the living room, still clutching the piece of cloth. That's when I hear the growl. The cops have let the dog stray on it's own, free to wander the house. And it looks up at me with such ferocity that my stomach twists into complex knots. I realise I have stopped breathing in the hope that the dog would ignore me and carry on. I also notice that the only thing separating me and the dog is a thin passageway and I contemplate ways to escape, each one less successful than the last.

Even before I'm done thinking, he charges. I see flecks of saliva left behind in still air, it seems, judging by the pace of his leaps and bounds. I also see the large, inhuman canine teeth meant primarily to tear and devour flesh. I blank out and I don't know what to think for the next 3 seconds.

He leaps. I duck. I hear the sickening crunch of the dogs muzzle hit the wall with such force that I find myself feeling sorry for the dog. I look up to see a mixture of saliva and blood on the wall and the dog whining on the ground below.

What happens next is just a blur. I only remember the cops walking away in a huff. I have no recollection of the dog.

The next morning, I find a handyman in the house. I don't know if something needs fixing, but it isn't my concern in any case. There are other people in the house who take these decisions. He looks like most handymen do, with a uniform and a tool belt on his waist. He also looks lecherous. I hate the sight of him and long to throw a punch at his sneering face everytime I look at it.

I shrug my shoulders and go online.

A good two hours have passed and I'm still sitting on the chair. I stretch. And I freeze. I get the uneasy feeling that there's somebody over my shoulder. I look back to see him frozen in place, with the same sneer on his face. I do not know how long he has stood there, so I ask him.

'All the time you've been here', he says.

I clench my fists in revulsion. He peers over my shoulder and scans the computer and then licks his lips.

'She's pretty', he says.

I have no idea what he saw, or who he looked at, or if I knew her, but I was already pushing him with all my strength, out of the room, through the passageway, through the living room and out of the front door. All the time, he looks transfixed, and I would give anything in the world to not know what he was thinking.

As I heave him out the door, I find 6 construction workers waiting for him. They are covered in grime and are wearing hard hats. I am intimidated because they look strong and all I want to do is just close the door and bolt it shut from the inside. But something told me that a simple bolt wouldn't stop these men.

Standing still, I feel a surge of adrenalin and glare at them viciously. A few of them look startled and I feel pleased and decide to continue with my new found bravado.

I look at one of the men. He is black. And he looks like Laurent (from 'Twilight', the movie). He is large, has dreadlocks and speaks in a fluid accent that I would never be able to master if I was awake. Still, in the dream, he sounds exactly like he would, like he was meant to.

I'm repulsed by the sight of him. He moves his mouth constantly and I imagine him uttering vile curses not comprehensible by my untrained ears. I call him a pussy. He glares back at me and says, 'Call me that 20000 times.'

I am not aware what significance the number twenty thousand bears, but I'm least bothered. I'm tired and want to call it a night. I lift a pair of garden shears and scissor his head off.

I see a fountain of blood spurt from where his head should have been.

And I wake up, fists clenched, feeling completely satisfied.


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Saturday, February 28

It's a love hate thing

“You’re boring, empty and never really have more than one thing to say at any given point of time.”

“I spend every day trying to fulfill my life. I shouldn’t have to fulfill yours too.”

“Yes, but you spend every waking minute with me. And your way of life makes me want to end it. I feel the need to clasp my full palms around your supple neck and snap it.”

“The only thing I would take away from that is the fact that you love me to bits. And pieces?”

“It would really help if you were unfunny at this particular point of time, but I can’t help the fact that I’m stuck with a loon who needs to gratify himself by making an absolutely witless statement every passing minute.”

“Your drawling voice, combined with a straight, emotionless face and a monotone make you seem like a drooling 80 year old woman on sleep medication whose children have long left his side. Metaphorically speaking.”

“True. True. And don’t forget the fact that I’m a talentless leech.”

“Certain things are better left unsaid. But yes, you are as talentless as a headless chicken with the bid flu.”

“I will have you know, I have talent. I have the innate ability to make people rue the day they were born. I cannot get through a day without satisfying the half-empty sadist in me. I’m human, I need to be satiated.”

“So what you’re trying to say is that you like insulting people so much that if you don’t find anybody by your side, you would much rather insult yourself?”

“Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying.”

“Good, then I guess we finally have something in common. Let’s make out, unless your bony lips have given away under the impact of you actually making a contribution to this hapless conversation.”

“Yes, and I’m about as turned on as a switch right now.”

    What's new? - Check out my poems at my other blog

Sunday, November 30

The end of all beginnings

Every time I feel the annoying urge to put some words down, I always think of a great ending. The perfect sign-off. The calm after the storm, only the other way around.

I realised that even while writing about nothing in particular, I still am pretty mediocre at it. Which is why the droll wit and the long meaningless sentences that help the reader focus that nonchalant gaze on the static screen, need to rise up to a colossal end so as to give him/her the satisfaction of not having completely wasted the last 10 minutes of his/her time.

I do not deceive. I do not force the reader to read enrapt, the random ramble of words, conjured phrases and self-inflicted ridicule. A reader by habit feels the need to end what he has started. A reader that puts a book down always picks it up again one day. It is not necessary that the book needs to be particularly interesting. Every reader has an ego that remains invisible to the eyes of people, an ego that only he can satiate, which is to leave nothing unaccomplished, leave no book unread.

My choice of words are open to speculation. It is therefore fortunate nobody has stepped up so far to refute my opinions (which I am not ready share with anybody anyway). So while you sit there, disgruntled and hold me in contempt of my crass way of undermining your power of authority to tell me how to frame my sentences or how to edit what I type, I sit amused. Not at the expense of your helpless plight, but at my unfair advantage.

I might remain misinformed regarding the variety of your opinions, criticism far beyond my reach. My argument remains that such a predicament is a very good thing. I wouldn't particularly like to be told I suck, until I approach a publisher, upon which time I expect to be more than 30 years old. And successfully capable of procuring a licensed firearm. So thank you for all the kind words that remain locked up within your mental prison which keep telling you how smart you are, and how condescending I am.

Yes, I understand this is very abstract but the boring part is almost done with and the good part is almost here.

I am referring to the end, which I originally began with...

And to really sum it all up, I think all of the above is horse crap!


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Friday, August 15

Walking away

Everything seems vaguely fluid, without a constant state of being. I feel connected to every single element that extends generously to grasp my palm, grip it tight, and reassure me that I am not exclusive, not abundant at the same time.

Its as if I've been staring into the light for enough time now that I can't see the darkness anymore. (I couldn't have seen darkness anyway)
But I'm not comfortable, because I feel at home in the dark, and the spotlight that is getting increasingly hot is trying to eradicate that thinly veiled layer of anonymity and falsehood I have sought shelter within.
Its not the placid, calm light that lights up a street or the living room. It is sharp, and sears my skin.

Well, its not going to accomplish much, for I have already had many a hole burned right through me. It feels like a torn brittle white transparent piece of paper being held up by tiny invisible strands of dried up glue and an unspoken agreement with the listless wind.

Yet, I remain nonchalant and come to terms with the fact that I've been holed up
in.. a.. hole..
And I don't want to climb out, not because I'm afraid, but because I don't like what's on the outside.

I want to reach out and communicate with nostalgia, give him a great big handshake and never speak to him again.
For there have been no glory days of the past.
Just days - Long, tiresome, never-ending days filled with false hope and lies.
Is 'lies' too strong a word? Maybe.
But since I have already said it, there is no point reiterating the fact that I don't care.

I have tried to walk along the path of time, but I keep moving in circles, concentric circles with no ambition or grip on reality. Life has begun to take its own course, unguided and furious.
As uncontrollable as it already is, life is also like a bunch of grapes.

Grapes are fun fruit. You could spit seeds at other people, simply throw them about, or just squish them between your toes.
I like to toss them as high up in the air as possible and attempt to catch them in my mouth. Of course, they always end up hitting me in the eye.

"Why do you repeatedly hit my eye, oh grape?"
"If you'd stop looking right at me with intense concentration, I might do otherwise."

Yes, life is a bunch of grapes. It's all about having some fun, but once you begin to focus really hard, you get knocked off your feet. And you are laid down in a state of paralyzing dismay for the rest of your life, or until you get over it.

Or you could simply choose to walk away...

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Saturday, July 26


There are just two people in this tale.
and She.

He: "I hate parties. The loud music, the smoke. And most importantly, the hollering, because nobody can hear you through this LOUD music! Wow! I mean, it's really loud!"

She: "Are you saying all of this because you want to talk to me in private, somewhere far away, preferably under that lone tree? Maybe you'd like to say something romantic. And maybe I might make your dreams come true tonight..."

"Hahaha. That was corny. Yeah, all that would be nice, but I just want to talk. It doesn't matter if we make any sense."

"Speak for yourself. I plan on making a lot of sense."

"I'll take you up on that when this Bourbon is over."

* tiny blades of grass scream softly as they get crushed *
* the leaves laugh - rustle *

She: "So I guess we're now going to talk about how screwed up our lives are."

He: "How about just staying silent for a while..."


"Until I say so!"

* the sunlight winks at the two, burning through stray leaves *
* the leaves scream as they burn *
* the other leaves laugh * the sun laughs * nobody cares *

He: "Who the heck has a party in the afternoon? I mean, that's just borderline crazy."

She: "You're here aren't you?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty borderline crazy myself."

"I know. That's why I'm sitting here, next to you, instead of in there, trying to grab some ass."

"That's a strange thing for a woman to say."

"I think you're mistaken . I'm not a woman, I'm a dude."

"Liar! In that case, you're the first dude I feel like kissing."


She: "Can we go back to your place?"

He: "No. I have this policy. I don't take drunk women home. I don't like it."

"Ah, a gentleman!"

"Actually it's because they throw up. A lot!"

"Ah, a gentleman!" *sarcasm*
"There's something you should know. I don't have any policies at my place."

"That is very suggestive. But I actually said no because I have a girlfriend."

"Wait, is that the truth?"

"No, I'm actually married."

"Ha. Ha. The truth!"

"Okay. If you want the truth, I'll give it to you. But you might not like it, and it might ruin a lot of good things you might have going for you right now."

"I've braced myself."


"I'm not real... I'm in your mind..."

* the leaves laughed * the sun laughed * the music was loud no more *

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Wednesday, June 25

Simplicity Swami

A trail of invisible vapours breathed an intoxicating scent around the small, sparsely furnished two bedroom house.
By the time the heady aroma wafted towards his nostrils, Swami was already up and about. It was a proud day for the Subramaniam household, and for the many generations that had carried the Subramaniam family name.

Swami couldn't believe his eyes when the appointment letter arrived a week back. It wasn't that he had performed badly during the interview, he was just too simple a person to believe that he was capable of greatness.

Swami was as devout as most devout brahmins go. It was not surprising to watch him pray fervently before opening the envelope and then praying afterward, only to thank God for his good fortune and promising to visit the temple nearby, for every day of the following week.

As Swami emerged from his bath, the smell of talcum powder and bath soap almost nearly overpowered the scents from the Puja (prayer) room, if only for an instant. He looked at his neatly pressed, clean white shirt, and his father's red tie. He also looked at his shoes extra hard to check if he could see his face grinning back at him. He had spent most of the previous night trying to polish the shoes to make them as shiny as possible.

"It's a shoe, not a mirror!"

There was nothing abnormally unique about Swami, nothing unusually weird that might pass off as cool or strange. He was a typical, run-of-the-mill brahmin boy that many parents in Madras once had, before losing their sons to nicotine, alcohol, girls, late night parties, pre-marital intercourse and social circles.

For instance, Swami had just two pairs of jeans, both gifted to him. One was given to him during Diwali, and the other was bought for his birthday. And he neatly pressed them every time, before categorically placing them in the 2 shelves that held all of his clothes.

He had a few friends. Well, they were technically not his friends, for they were unlike him. They were the sort that would look at women lecherously, make snide remarks, pick up quarrels with random people, drink on the street with the money stolen from their parents during the weekend, etc. But they were the closest he had to friends, and so Swami had to make do.
Of course they made a lot of fun of him, mainly because he was an outcast, but they seldom crossed the line, because Swami was as helpful as he was obedient. Whenever it came to money for cigarettes, whiskey, bribes, bail, etc, the guys always counted on Swami.

"Swami, you are so simple! What are you doing here in this dangerous city?"

"Yesh, Simple.. Shitee.. SWAMI!!"

"Haha! Simplicity Swami! That's what we'll call you."

'Simplicity Swami' wolfed down idlis and sambhar as quickly as his mouth, and mother permitted. He had to take the blessings of many elders in the neighbourhood, as well as drop in to see his uncle and aunt on his way to the work. He wanted to make it to the office a good half hour earlier than he had to, because he was the kind of person who always tried to make a good impression on people.

Most importantly, there was nothing to deter the foretold path his future ought to take. Stones had been cast, parrots had preached and palms had been read. Swami was going to live his life to the fullest, in the best of health, make lots of money and find his bride.
His mother was clearly overjoyed, because even as Swami was saying his goodbyes, she was already planning his marriage, and mentally making a note to call the marriage broker the following day.

And that's how Swami came to gaze up at the 100-storey, glass encased structure that would soon become his home away from home for many years to come.

That of course, will be a different story altogether......