Thursday, July 09, 2015

Love, Dona!




July 2014, 6:30am, Small-town, USA.

A white Audi driven by a woman in her 40s going way below the speed limit on a State highway The woman, Vice President of finance company has slowed down her car because she is having trouble seeing the road. The reason why she cant see the road is because she is crying...the reasons she is crying is because radio in her car radio just played a song called 'Red' by Taylor Swift.

"Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street
Faster than the wind, passionate as sin ending so suddenly
Losing him was blue like I'd never known
Missing him was dark grey all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met
But loving him was red
Loving him was red!"

The night before she had a surprise from a long lost friend. They re-connected after 25 years. They shared the gifts and ironies that life brought to them since that fateful night when Atlanta played Minnesota for the World Series in 1991.

She stops by the shoulder of the road, takes her contact lenses off and cries heart out. 

Winter 1991, GA Tech, Graduation Day

I am standing with other students in the University Stadium for the commencement ceremony.  My friends Dona, SK, Ted, Steve, Gortitude all are in the audience taking pictures. Speeches are being made as my mind is racing in all directions. It’s a flashback time. The images from past three years of struggles to get to this very moment are flickering one after the others.  My heart is in turmoil but am smiling like all my classmates standing along with me. The one person I am missing most at this time is my father.

I think a father -son relation is the most complex of them all. Complex, coz here is a man you want to be your idol, yet you be your own man. Even though you want to be a lieutenant, or a vice captain in his team, yet you feel immense urge to lead just one time. You respect him but you want your father to go "wow" just once for you.  I know a graduation ceremony is not a wow going moment, but it does not hurt to see what he is thinking of this act.

"Shahid Parvez Sayed, Masters, School of Civil Engineering", comes the announcement as I walk to receive my degree from President Dr. Crecine.  Later during the reception I go and meet Dr. Crecine again and apologize to him for causing him trouble on the championship game day in 1989. He smiles and says " Not a problem. I am glad you called. Its so good to see you graduate today despite all the hardships your endured".  

Winter 1991, Poona Restaurant, Duluth

SK has given a party to celebrate my graduation at this Indian restaurant in Duluth. We are having fun. SK is a great talker and is keeping all in splits.  We are sitting by a table next to the window. I am feeling confident about my future, as getting Masters from GA Tech is a big deal. Not many successfully graduate from there.  

The only problem is that I do not know that the future will take me back to the same table of Poona restaurant in 1998. I will be wearing a white shirt, black bow tie and serving food and water to the guests. One day Ahsan Rashid wud walk in the restaurant (Ahsan had played a role in the play I had written), upon seeing me as a waiter he is shocked.

I take glasses of water for him. He gets up and hugs me, then introduces me to his family and kids.

Later that night when I wud call India.

"Main Haar Gyaa. I am coming back" - I have tears in my eyes as I narrate the Ahsan Rashid incident to my official girl frnd whom I have left in India. 

" Aap to Ameer e Qfila hain. Aap Kaise Haar Sakte Hain? I am with you. We will get thru this." - She tries to lift my morale up.

Lets save that story for some other day!

July 2014, Small-town, USA

The white woman in the Audi is still crying.  What is she crying for? She has everything that people dream for - a big house, kids, and great job - everything. She worked hard and faced all the challenges that life threw at her. She is an independent minded strong woman - still she is crying like a baby?

Tears that coming our of her eyes are drowning the words like Kaafir, Gentile, Non gentile, Malacchi, Dalit, black, white, brown, Americans, Indians, Shia, Sunni, 24, 26 and all other labels that bigots use to discriminate against other humans and to keep the world divided.

Taylor Swift still singing…


“Remembering him comes in flashbacks and echoes
Tell myself it's time now, gotta let go
But moving on from him is impossible
When I still see it all in my head
Burning red
Burning it was red”

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Love, Dona!




Fall 1990, GA Tech

"So you guys walk in the middle of the road in India?"

That is when I realized that I had her walk in the middle of the road even though sidewalks were empty. We were walking to aimlessly on campus after the class. God, she is smart. I thought. 

"Actually in India, the sidewalks are occupied by illegal hawkers, parking and slum dwellers. So in order to get anywhere faster,  one must walk on the road. See, what challenges we take in order to reach our destination." I tried to make light of the situation.

"There is no such challenge here; we can go back to the side walk!"

Walking with her was fun. White top, brown long skirt and flowing hair and tons of smiles used to be my company as we wud come out of the lecture room. I have not seen anyone enjoy the winds and weather like her. She was in love with nature and nature loved her back. She still looks as if time just passed by her, without taking anything away from her. 

Mirza says her smiles were not as a result of weather or the wind - but you. Your presence. I don’t know…may be that was the case.

Winter 1990, GA Tech

My graduation is getting closer. I am busy with International Student Festival and my duties as the Senator of the School of Civil Engineering. Life is good.

One evening it was raining heavily when she stopped by my apartment. We still go on a long drive. Somewhere near I-85 and Piedmont an insect gets stuck in the Viper of her car. She stops the car and gets out in the rain. She removes the entangled insect and places it on the RCC wall on the side of the road. She gets back apologizes to me for a sudden stop.

"Poor thing, he would have died stuck in the Viper blades"

I am thinking what a beauty of a heart she is. That was FDR with her real character and personality. I feel deeply for her in a heartbeat. That was not a pre-planned act but a spontaneous one. Our spontaneous acts are the windows to our real character and inner beauty.

As she gets behind the wheel I am thinking far away in the future. If we get married grow old together and when  Kids are gone. And we are sitting in the porch of my house and if she asks me "Why I married her?” I would use this example, this very moment to tell her why.

It’s time to see Dona now.

There is this girl I want to talk about...
What about her?

I am with Dona on our monthly meal at a Vietnamese restaurant. I brief Dona about FDR about everything. Dona, being the practical person, raises some legitimate questions. I would like to skip that part for now.

However, I decide to overlook her objections and do what my heart was saying. But there is something else is in store for me. FDR started backing off on me. I am surprised at this change of behavior. Phone calls were reduced and long drives became less frequent. I am wondering what’s going on. On our last day of the class FDR writes the exam paper before me. I know she is up to something what it is?

She leaves the class room in a hurry and after getting out of the classroom,  she shows me a card. She sticks the card in the door handle. I finish my paper and run after her. She is nowhere to be found. I open that card. Written in silver words were her last words....

My immediate reaction is anger. 

Spring 1991, GA Tech

One day, I go to the computer room of the college and see her with her friends. My heart stops at her sight. But I take a U turn and head back. She runs after me. She stops me out on the middle of the street and starts explaining something. I am just staring in her eyes and thinking how long before I would be able to see these eyes so up close?  I will be in India in three months and will never return.....will I ever see her like today.

I don’t remember what case FDR made for her behavior. I don’t care for the reasons. I am an egoist who does not believe going down to the knees should even be part of any healthy relationship.

I still do not know what caused her to take a U-turn on me. I wonder if Dona asked her to leave me alone. Did someone wanted me to return to India without any baggage? I dont know. 

To this day - I don’t know!

I n the meantime, I have completed all the  requirements for the Masters Degree and  the department has approved my petition for graduation.

I am going to GRADUATE, Finally!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love, Dona!




Blog ( Sept 8, 2008) continues:
I used to feel protected while hanging around you. I used to enjoy those long drives with no destinations. Your talks of contributing and changing the world still live in my imagination. My writings and films do show a flavor of what we used to talk back then. I have not changed!
One day, when a bully made me realize that " America is not your country", I was feeling depressed and down when you showed up and took me to the library. Thrusting the constitution of the United States in my hands you said, " This is as much as your country as theirs, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, Shahid!".
You always pronounced my name right. I was surprised and wondered where and how you learned to pronounce my name properly. It’s been so many years now and yet my friends and colleagues don’t call me Shahid, I am Shaheeed to them. The other day Mullah Luis's FPN called my name properly. I missed you!
In spite of being such a gem of a person you had complexities too. You never allowed me to take your pictures. One evening, while we were driving under a moon lit night, I wanted to take your pictures. I had bought a camera for that purpose. You said no and that was it. I pleaded and cited the magic of moonlight dancing on your face, the poetry of the moment, the lovely environment. But you did not relent even at the cost of me remaining upset for a few days.
However, a week before my departure to India, you came to my apartment with a few pictures. This time I did not even ask for them. I don’t remember what happened other then that Shakir was not in, and I was watching Atlanta play Minnesota for the World Series. I was totally engrossed in the game when you showed up.... I took the pictures from you but did not open the envelope as I was waiting for a commercial break. In a few seconds you did a reversal, and announced you not only wanted to go but also would like to take the picture back as well.
I still have those pictures...
I always admired your ability to rise above the petty boundaries of religion, border and color. You wanted to " go work in a third world country and contribute". You were a global citizen even before it became a buzzword. Mullah Luis says “by working and living in Montana you are like living and contributing to a third world Country. You have kept your words!" :)))
Ps: I found you on classmate’s finder web site. It provided me all the information about you like where you are now, where have you been since leaving Tech and whom you are married to? What distance you have traveled!'
PPS: I am no going to call you ...am a man of my words!
Blog Ends
July 2014.
I connect with her and get an immediate response. (Age mellows everyone and am no exception). After initial surprises, I share my blog post. She reads the blog and responds. Every response and the thought behind it makes me smile and is worth a poem, a painting, a film – or a Taj Mahal.
- " First of all the the color of my eyes is Hazel Green and not just Green!"
- “ You sleep at 3AM, I wake up at 4 AM looking at the maps of India!”
- " I want to know everything that happened after that night!"
- "That night cud have gone either way. I was getting pulled towards you and was even preparing to go with you to India. You were so upset that you cud not notice the turbulence inside me."
Let me take a time out here….


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Love, Dona!


Life is back on track.

I am invited to a desi student dinner on campus, where the hosts ask me to recite my poetry. I recite an old Ghazal

"Tawalat Shab e Gham Bhadhati Rahogi
Mujhe Kab Talak Aazmati Rahogi?

Kabhi Gham Banega Husool E Tabassum
Kahan Tak Bhala Muskurati Rahogi?

I speak with my heart so the repercussions were bound to happen. I was mobbed by some beautiful people in the audience "Kon thi?” " Kis Ke liye likhi?" was the frequent question. These girls were student from Oglethorpe, Agnes Scott and Georgia State. I rely on Ustaad Jigar Moradabadi to get out of the situation and say " Koi Ek Ho To Bataoon!"

However, this incident establishes my writing ability in the eyes of my hosts. They ask me to write a play for them, which they were planning to stage at GSU auditorium.

I write a play called "Roshni " which was against a system prevalent in Sindh, in which men of wealthy families get their sisters and daughters to marry the holy Quran.  That way they save their land and wealth from outsiders. It was shocking to me when I heard this custom. Nazish Mushedi plays the lead role and Shad Khan helps in production.

"Roshni" was staged at the Georgia State University auditorium to a full house. I introduce the play. Dona was in the audience throughout the play even though she could not understand a word.

At the end of the play, an on lady came looking for the writer of the play. She put her hand on head and said ‘ Beta bahut accha likha. Allah Tumhen Khsuh Rakhe!’ – That sentence from an old women that night, still gives me a high. What I did was right….needed.

Summer 1990, GA Tech

I have taken an elective in the school of management. There I meet someone awesome.  After keeping quiet for 18 years I write about her on my blog in 2008. Here is the cut and paste of it:

September 8, 2008
It’s past midnight here in Atlanta, GA and I am writing about you on my blog. Why? Why now after so many years? I don’t know. I just do not know. Just felt like it.

I have been missing you more since my office moved in to the building on North Avenue. While we were enjoying the views of midtown from 27th floor, I saw the College of Management at Georgia Tech. I saw that classroom, conference room, that tree outside and I saw that lonely bench underneath the tree - and I saw you!

My friend Shakir found me after 15 years. The first thing he did was to enquire about your whereabouts. I had no update, no information to give. I never made an attempt to meet you or find you since we departed.... I am a man of my words.

I don’t know why we were attracted toward each other to begin with? I have some clue of my reasons, but you had no reason to come close to a small time jebroni like me. Back then, I had nothing, not even a basic car. I was surprised when one day in the conference room you touched my face and said " Shahid, I never imagined I would fall in love with some one from overseas". I was surprised. I assumed you were joking, pagal hai - I thought?...apparently you were not!

I was the only engineering graduate to have signed up for Org behavior in the school of management. That is when I met you for the first time. I, a jebroni and you, the most beautiful thing in the class. You with Brunette hair, deep dimples and green eyes that used to disarm and grab me by my senses.

Do you remember one day during the class I started writing your name in Hindi in your notebook and you in turn responded by writing mine in French.? I came back with Urdu and you chose German to write my name. We kept going back and forth oblivious to the ongoing class. I don’t remember how many languages we exhausted until we found the professor shouting in our direction " IS THIS SOME KIND OF A UNDERGRADUATE CLASS?” The entire class burst into laughter. I felt good for some reasons - you were embarrassed!

That moment changed a lot though, and everyone in the class after that started looking at us differently. My other fiends who were in the reckoning to get your attention gave up after that.....life was not the same! I knew I was the chosen one. I remember telling you after the class that if I end up making movies, this scene will find a place...you just smiled and kept walking.

I used to feel protected while hanging around you. I used to enjoy those long drives with no destinations. Your talks of contributing and changing the world still live in my imagination. My writings and films do show a flavor of what we used to talk back then. I have not changed!

One day, when a bully made me realize that " America is not your country", I was feeling depressed and down when you showed up and took me to the library. Thrusting the constitution of the United States in my hands you said, " This is as much as your country as theirs, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, Shahid!".

You always pronounced my name right. I was surprised and wondered where and how you learned to pronounce my name properly. It’s been so many years now and yet my friends and colleagues don’t call me Shahid, I am Shaheeed to them. The other day Mullah's FPN called my name properly. I missed you!

In spite of being such a gem of a person you had complexities too. You never allowed me to take your pictures. One evening, while we were driving under a moon lit night, I wanted to take your pictures. I had bought a camera for that purpose. You said no and that was it. I pleaded and cited the magic of moonlight dancing on your face, the poetry of the moment, the lovely environment. But you did not relent even at the cost of me remaining upset for a few days.

However, a week before my departure for India, you came to my apartment with a few pictures. This time I did not even ask for them. I don’t remember what happened other then that Shakir was not in, and I was watching Atlanta play Minnesota for the World Series. I was totally engrossed in the game when you showed up.... I took the pictures from you but did not open the envelope as I was waiting for a commercial break. In a few seconds you did a reversal, and announced you not only wanted to go but also would like to take the picture back as well.

I still have those pictures...

I always admired your ability to rise above the petty boundaries of religion, border and color. You wanted to " go work in a third world country and contribute". You were a global citizen even before it became a buzzword. Mullah says “by working and living in Vermont you are like living and contributing to a third world Country”. You have kept your words! (Please don't mind him. He is a dear friend and an occasional side-kick).

Ps: I found you on classmate’s finder web site. It provided me all the information about you like where you are now, where have you been since leaving Tech and whom you are married to? What distance you have traveled!

PPS: I am not going to call you. I am a man of my words!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Love, Dona!








Winter 1989, Grady Memorial Hospital,

The cops drive me straight to Grady and get me admitted in a psychiatric ward where they keep me “under observation”. 

“Yahan Kaise Aaya?”
SK a new entrant to my life has come to see me at Grady Hospital.  I explain to him the events leading up to here.  I tell him not to tell anyone else that I am here. I am ok.

After taking my leave, I see SK talking with the nurses. As soon as he leaves, the ambulance drives me to a ground floor building on the outskirts of the city. Later SK informs me that he told nurses that I am talking about jumping from the building.
Why you lied? I ask him.
“Now they wont be able to deport you! “He explains.

This new hospital is full of seriously disturbed people I think I am the only sane person in this wards, OR was I? I fear for my life now. One of these “disturbing “ looking guy is going to strangle me tonight – I think…. I have stopped sleeping at night…I only sleep during daytime. ( Grady sends me a bill of $313 which becomes $13,000 later with interest. I pay $5000 in 2001to get them off my back. This is capitalism at its best!)

Steve comes to pick me up. He is my best frnd and a student at Georgia Tech.
“I am sorry you have to go thru this man.” He takes me on a long drive. He cracks jokes to make me laugh. It’s a great sight to see a friend trying to lift you up… Friendship is the best medicine in this World…it cures many ills. Years later, in 2007 Jeff Shipman would do that in my life…but that story some other time.

Winter 1989, LaGrange, GA
I meet “A” at a party that Steve invited me to. She is good looking and is fun to be with.  Even though she comes from a rural Dixie background, her ability to see beyond is fascinating. For her, I am a perfect candidate for settling down in life. I am working on my Masters at Georgia Tech and have a bright career ahead.

For me – I am in the middle of a war. Everything else will have to wait.

Winter 1989, Francis 14th Condos
My deportation is on hold. The Judge has given me an extension to stay and finish my degree.

SK and I have moved in to fancy condos on 14th street. I am back to focusing on my studies. He has great sense of humor. He paints. He speaks without an accent. He prays. He cooks great food. He has class and is flamboyant.  He organizes little get together in which I recite my stories and ghazals. He is yaron ka yaaar types.

The only time I have issues with SK is when his girl friend Anita comes to see him and they spend time closeted in his bedroom.

But other than that, no complaints!

Spring 1990, Virginia Highlands

Dona introduces me to Shakespeare, Mozart and Bach. Music always keeps playing in her house, even in her absence. As soon as you enter her house you are greeted by symphony no 9 of Beethoven of Mozart or Atlanta Symphony Orchestra playing Bernstein’s. She is a fan of Jimmy Carter and is a member of Jimmy Carter Center of Peace and many other such organizations.

My horizons are expanding. I used to think Ghalib, Sahir and Harivansh Rai to to be the ultimate of literature and art, now new names populating my head.  

Spring 1990, GA Tech
For some weeks now, I ma having this light headache and a feeling of nausea 24x7. I have trouble walking straight. SK says it is nothing; it is just in “my head!” Dona takes me more seriously and sends me to her neurologist frnd for a brain check up. All is well there. But the condition persists.

One day I am lying on my bed thinking about my life script.  The script that I wrote for myself was different than what I am living. My script had a 2 years stay and a degree from America. India is my Karma Bhumi. Who wrote these scenes and why? And now am pulled in different directions.  On one hand I have this great country with unlimited options and freedom to achieve any heights. On the other hand I have unanswered question and a vacuum.  On one hand I have this beautiful Blondie who wants to be my partner…. On the other hand….

Whenever SK finds me lying on my bed looking in the sky with some crappy sad Hindi song playing in the background, he would not leave me alone.

One day he comes home early and finds me in that state.

“Lets go shopping”
“Nahi jana”

We get down at Lindberg MARTA station.  As soon as we come out SK wants to go to the loo.

“Gas station main janaa”
“Nahi, they are dirty. Lets go to Cheetah 3” – SK pointing to a nude club right next to the station.
“Pagal hai. Nahi.”
“Yaar Ek minute lagegga. Tu mat janaa ..main foran aa jaoongaa”
“Nahi mujhe nahi janaa”

As soon as we reach Cheetah 3, SK buys two entrance tickets for 16 dollars.
“Arre, kiya kar raah hai?”
“Chalnaa Yaar, please, 16 dollar waste ho jayenge” SK pulls me by my hand with a mischievous smile.

Khuda Ki Panaha, is what came to my mind as soon as we enter the club. I have the poetry in my genes and we poets like things “hidden!”  We are more prone to fall for a pair of eyes or hands or hair but to see this brazen display of human body parts was too much to handle.  But I am supposed to be a man and running away at this time would amount to be being a sissy. I am a fighter and not a sissy…so I don’t run back to the door.

SK is enjoying the tamasha. He is stuffing 5-dollar bills in the stocking of these dancers. Stockings are all they are wearing. He gives me a bill too, but I refuse to stick it in her stockings. A dancer comes down the pole and approaches me for money. I am embarrassed. All eyes are following her. She gets closer. My heart stops. I feel a sudden 2000-degree heat next to me. I hand over the money as she goes away. The entire exercise takes 30 seconds or less, for me it felt longer. SK laughs at my discomfort. 

To keep myself busy I start noticing things and people. Till my eyes set on a Queen Rania or a look alike of Queen Rania, who is sitting with her frnds on the table next t ours. She smiles. I smile back. She looks khandaani. She too is like me – and does not belong here. I think.

I get distracted for a few minutes as SK whispers something in my ears.

“Who dekh, who abhi apne paas bathi thi na”
“OMG”

That was Queen Rania look like. She was coming on stage and removing whatever worldly possessions she had in front of the crowd.

I run out of the Club. SK follows.

“Dard Kaisa hai ab? Chakkar aa rahe hain?”
“Dard badh gyaa hai. Chakkr bhi. Ab kiya kareneg ye bol?”

We laugh.

PS:  A few years later, Cheetah 3 filed for bankruptcy. A church bought it. I read it that they kept the entire setup as is. They did not even remove the “poles”.

Even though Cheetah 3 changed hands from Godless people to God fearing ones, the “worship” still goes on – this time to a different God! 

Monday, June 08, 2015

Love, Dona!





Love, Dona!

I have picked out a name for you
What is it?
I will tell you when we meet.

Dona calls for once a month dinner meeting.  Looking back now, I realize what she was doing. By seeing me personally over the dinner every two or three weeks she was making sure I am doing fine and staying sane.

In the US, it is common for folks to pick up names. I had never thought of it but now that she brought this up, I was curious to see what name she thinks for me. 

Most of the times I carry flowers whenever I see her.  I have never ever seen anyone respect my flowers like she does.  She would take pictures of the flowers and send me showing how they are doing. Those flowers from Virginia Highlands flower shop used to last long, sometime weeks. To gift her flower was an occasion I used to Cherish.

After so many years of gifting flowers I have developed a theory. I can predict with reasonable accuracy the amount of time my relationship with someone is going to last, depending how he or she handles my flowers with in first 10 minutes of receiving it.

Example:  A few years back in Bhopal, I met two awesome ladies both belonging to same socioeconomic class. I took flowers with me to both of them. One did not care enough but the other sent me whatsapp picture of how my flowers are doing. One relation ended within a few days, the other is still going strong.

I had bought proper gift able flowers for the first lady, but for the second I cud not find a flower shop.  It was past 9 and only flower shop open was in the temple. The temple was closed so that shop was almost winding up for the day.

Temple flowers are normally yellow loose Marigold not fit for gifting as a bouquet.  I buy hose loose Marilgold for RS 75 and arrive at her home, where her entire family is shocked to see me carrying flowers in a newspaper.  I was prepared for this so I start with “ Devi Ko Chadane walen phool hain – Mandir Band Ho Gyaa Hai. Hum socha Us Devi Ko nahi Is Devi Pe chada Doon. Swaab Tab Bhi Mielgaa!!”

I have carried flowers to her many more times. Proper flowers. Expensive. Bouquet.  But she talks of those 75RS ones everytime she finds flowers in my hand and she says “ Un phoolon ki baat hi aur thi”.

See what I mean…


What is it? I ask Dona
The name that fits you and that I like is – Dona paused.
My anticipation peaked with names Mike, Sean, Chris doing the rounds of my field of imagination.
The name that I like and fits you like a tee is “Khush Guftaar!”
“What?”
And each letter in Khush Guftaar stands for something.
Where did u find this? This is Persian…
I had gone to the library.

This is how I lost my chance to be called “Sean” or “ Mike” or whatever. The bottom line is “ Khush Guftaar” is what I was, and what I have always will be.

Dona knew it.

Sad part is I do not remember now what each letter stood for in Kush Guftaar.

Life is good. I am elected as the new Senator from the School of Civil Engineering.  I represent my college in the Student Governing council. When the President of the Council asks me to take oath by putting my hand on my heart and repeating after him, I feel something.  Don’t know what to call feeling but the deepest desire and commitment to serve the students comes to mind.  But I am sure it was much deeper something words cant describe.

These days when I see India’s MPS and MLAs take oath, I look for familiar signs n feelings on their faces. Mostly I don’t see anything…

USA V/S Shahid Sayed

“You are herby requested to leave the country by 30th and inform our office of the arrangements you made to depart, failing of which INS will deport you thereafter”

That was the notice from INS.

My World went into a spin again. But this time I am angry.

I am doing great academically. Why are they being unreasonable to me? What sins have I committed by working and saving money for my tuition? Is this the greatest country they talk about? Why me?

All my frnds are not happy with new INS notice, but they have reconciled to the fact that I have to leave. After crying one night, Dona too accepted my fate.

The only problem is I have not accepted this fate. No. I am not ready to go back to India without my degree.

Crazy ideas entering my mind on hourly basis as the day of departure approaches.

A day before the deadline I call President of the University Dr. Patrick Crecine to seek his help. He is away attending GA Tech football championship in Florida. A lady called Jennifer picks up the phone and talks sweetly. ( She introduces herself as his Girl Friend, I remember. Girlfriends are always nice)

I tell her what INS is doing to me and ask for help from the President. I end my conversation by saying “ I will burn myself at Georgia Tech Student Center if INS deports me today”.

Some student in India had burnt himself protesting against Mandal Commsion – that is where the idea came from.

She calms me down and asks me that I give her 15 mins before I do anything stupid. She wants a promise from me. I promise.

She hangs up.

In 5 minutes two cops knock on my door.  They too do a search of my body for any weapon.


And then they ask me to come up with them for a ride.