Friday, February 26, 2010


After three lack luster dates (technically two dates and a no-show), I have never been so happy to run errands. “We should really shop at Wal-Mart,” Jane says. (Posts 41, 14, 12, 9, 8, 7, ) “As a Minnesotan that is blasphemous speak,” I reply. She stands in front of an aisle end cap surveying discounted chocolate. “Yes, but these Target sale prices are the regular Wal-Mart prices,” Jane states. She tosses half priced M&Ms into the cart and we proceed to the registers.

In front of us I notice a family. The wife is desi, the husband is American (white) and the older woman, an Indian auntie, presumably belongs to the wife. I am determining what is familiar about the auntie when American husband says, “We have a full cart and the next line is short.” “Hey thanks,” I reply.

We move to the next aisle and Jane reaches for a magazine. OMFG! I suddenly place the square-headed Auntie with untrusting eyes. She’s one of my mother’s friends! The daughter is older than me and we weren’t friends growing up. I had heard the daughter moved to NYC. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d run into anyone I knew via Minnesota in the Bronx Target. And not them. This is embarrassing to tell, but I have found my parents’ richest friends are the cheapest. The family in the neighboring aisle might be one of the worst, rumored to have made their money as slumlords who squeezed the last penny out of poor college students. So I just assumed they were Wal-Mart shoppers!

I glance at Auntie who evidently wants to get mugged because she drips in diamonds. (Sidebar: Auntie should sell her earrings and buy upper lip laser treatments for her daughter. I can see that caterpillar of a moustache from 12 feet away). I also wish I wasn’t wearing nasty sweat pants. Just in case Auntie looks my way, I undo the pony tail and shake my head. Long strands of greasy hair framing my cheeks will certainly disguise me!

Then I develop anxiety, similar to what you experience when you need a loo and can’t find one. Crazed, I throw things on the conveyor belt. As fast as the sales associate can bag, I fill the cart and almost race to the elevator. I look back at Jane who SAUNTERS behind me. I leave the cart for a moment (not recommended in New York) and yank on her arm. Surprisingly this skinny girl with no ass is hard to drag out of Target.

Back at the elevator I look over my shoulder and watch the family go up the escalator. Like an un-diked dam, my panic pours out of me. I wasn’t ready to face the intersection of my past and present, in a Target no less. It is one thing to move to Manhattan to get married, admittance to desi auntie and her married local daughter is another.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


A few hours before I meet Vicky, I sit at the computer and think. Yesterday when we were finalizing our date, he asked what brought me to New York. His query caught me off guard. I mean, of course, there is Manhattan herself. But admitting, “I’m looking for my husband,” to a man, even one from a desi matrimonial Website, is going to send him running for the hills of Rajasthan. But it has me wondering. Do I disclose my writing aspiration? Do I confess to being more focused on pleasing my family than myself? Exactly how honest do I have to be with strangers?

The phone rings. Caller id says it’s Jack (Posts 14, 12, 9, 7, 2) and I pick up. “Hey! What’s up?” I say. “Do you want to see a movie tonight?” he asks. “I’d love to but I have a date! He’s coming back from Philly tonight.” “Has he called you today?” Jack inquires. “No, why?” I ask. “Have you been outside?” “No, I work from home. I can go days without leaving the apartment,” I state. “There’s damn near a monsoon coming through the Tri-State,” Jack says.

What? I bolt out of my chair and pull the curtain back. Hai bhagvan! Jack wasn’t joking. Sheets of rain cover everything in a wet, greyness. A light sprinkle in the City creates train/subway delays, accidents on the West Side Highway, and pond-sized puddles. But a real storm with lighting and thunder brings Manhattan traffic to a grinding halt, taxis are impossible to hail, train signals malfunction and airport delays can become cancellations. Is Mother Nature conspiring against me by stranding my date? That beeyatch!

As I watch the rain fall, Vicky texts me. Sure as sugar, he has no idea when he is leaving Philly. I text him back and tell him that I am free tomorrow in the afternoon.

Though I never heard from him again, I hope he made it back from the City of Brotherly Love. It’s okay anyway. How serious could I get with a man named Vicky?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


To his credit, Stutter Much has selected a nice Upper West Side brunch spot. To my dismay, the MTA is yet again doing track work north of 168th Street. This means I have to shuttle bus it to 168th Street for the local train, adding 20 minutes to my commute. Oh…did I mention? It’s pouring rain outside. Yippee, flat hair.

Stutter Much is already seated when I arrive and we engage in polite, unexciting conversation. This is refreshing given my history with sex freaks and the emotionally challenged. After lunch the rain tapers off and we walk around a misty Central Park. This is when I first notice Stutter Much’s occasional pause in speech. We leave the park and go for lattes, allowing us to chat some more. I pay careful attention, but don’t hear the stutter. He offers to drive me home and I accept. I’m not getting the stalker-slasher vibe from him. Once in the car Stutter Much gives me a gift bag filled with perfumed soaps, lotions, candles and scents. While company swag is always divine, he clearly put some thought into this. S’nice.

A few days later we’re chatting on the phone and again I notice breaks in the dialogue. Hhhmm. Now I need confirmation about the speech impediment and agree to a second date where we sip margaritas and eat chips in Chelsea. Normally this is my idea of culinary bliss; I have yet to meet a tortilla chip I didn’t like. But the conversation is excruciating. When he stutters I can literally see the words move from his mind, catch in the back of his head for a few seconds and then finally come to his lips. I fight the urge to tap the back of his head like a ketchup bottle to get the words out. That can’t be good, right?

What makes this more awful is that he’s a really *nice* guy. I just can’t date him. And it’s not due to the Indian fascination of arranging fixed girls to boys without flaws (some matchmakers consider a speech impediment a defect). The problem is my mind races faster than my mouth, if that’s even possible. I fear in time, this loud, fast-talking desi girl is going to lose her mind “conversing” with a quiet boy permanently on stall.

But I sure do enjoy the candles and perfumes! Ooo la la!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I cannot believe I agreed to meet a date outside of Macy’s. Not only does the store take up two entire city blocks, from 7th Avenue to Broadway between 34th and 35th Streets, it is located around the corner from the Empire State Building. All of this makes Herald Square so ridiculously congested with slow moving tourists from Kansas to Korea that locals avoid it like the plague.

Around 7:15 pm I glance at my watch and wonder if my tardy date operates under Indian Standard Time (Post 8). 7:20, 7:25, 7:30. At 7:35 pm I impatiently scroll through my phone and realize I don’t have Meet me at Macy’s mobile number. At 7:40 pm I call his land line.

“'Allo?” comes an elderly, accented female voice. Fantastic. Does he live with his mother? A curious detail he omitted in our previous conversation. “Can I please speak with Meet me at Macy’s?” I ask. “Sorry he is not at home. I can take a message,” she offers. I politely decline and hang-up. Thank goodness my Midwestern accent shields my desi-ness and saves me from sharing my “biodata particulars” with Auntie. Biodatas are seemingly harmless pieces of paper that are crafted into matrimonial weapons where parents detail their children: weight, eye color, skin color, body type (small, medium or large), degrees, universities, caste, hobbies; you name the topic, it can be found on this ultimate desi marriage resume.


I fume the entire train ride home. All 147 blocks. So I am calm once back in the apartment sitting in front of the computer ready to email him. While I mostly think he’s rude, a teeny tiny part of me considers the possibility he’s trapped under a very heavy bookshelf or that he was run over by a rogue deliveryman on a bike who soy sauced him. Almost immediately he replies. First he spells my name wrong. After living a lifetime in Minnesota where my bevy of blonde friends can do it, desis get no second chances at spelling or pronouncing my name correctly. Then he writes, “I thought we were meeting on Wednesday. Maybe my mind played tricks on me.”

I will be the first to admit I have flaws. However, I am far too OCD for mind games or showing up on the wrong day. I live and die by my calendar. I scroll through our emails and find yesterday’s confirmation email. I can only deduce that he is stupid or he stood me up. In either event there will be no future meeting with this puppie (puppie, like yuppie, only Punjabi).


Monday, February 22, 2010


I decided to follow my cousin’s advice and go out with multiple men at the same time. I have accepted communications, chatted on the phone and scheduled dates with three desi men. Luckily they are different enough that I won’t need flashcards.

Meet me at Macy’s: from his snap he’s a standard desi dude of Punjabi descent. He is 5’-6” which makes me nervous. What if he has that Napoleon Little Man Syndrome? In my heels we’re going to be the same height. I am actually 5’-2 ¾” and used to round up, until a 5’-3” woman went ape shit on me in a Minneapolis bar and REPRIMANDED for giving false height. Yikes, we’re both short. Just in case she was certifiable I stepped away before she poked my eyes out. I’m actually thankful for whatever height I got! My father is in denial and insists my mother is 5’-0”. This prompted me to measure her. She topped out at 4’-9”. (Sidebar: I added high heels to meat and alcohol as things I am not giving up for the sake of getting married).

Stutter Much: a fellow ABCD, lives in Connecticut, and works in finance for a cosmetics company. In his profile he states he’s a die-hard Knicks fan. I am sure this is so we ladies don’t doubt his heterosexuality. Which I appreciate. “They” say 10% of the world’s population is homosexual, which means there are 100,000 gay Indians or roughly 1/3 of the American population. I have overheard the aunties insist there are no “gay-shay” Indians, that we don’t come “in that kind”. Since Indians are uptight prudes who don’t discuss straight sexuality (despite being 1 billion strong) why would “underground” Bombay (Mumbai) discotheques ever register in the transoms of their deep-frying, temple-going, chai-drinking auntie minds?

Vicky: is a traveling consultant who told me wanted to meet a woman who spoke fluent Hindi, and how was mine? I said conversational at best. Now that I think about it, when I don’t know the Hindi word (which is often) I insert in the English one. So it is more hunt and peck Hindi…I should get me some Rosetta Stone. In any event Vicky has agreed to meet me when he comes back from Philly on Thursday. He has no photo, but he has a sleek and sexy voice, just a little touch of American mixed mostly with an Indian educated British accent. I cannot resist a well-suited, smartly scented man with a smooth American-Indo-British accent. Tom Ford has a cologne that is to die for! I am going to douse my man in it, once I find him that is!

Speaking of which, I should have some mantras chanted to enhance the timely resolution of my marriage.

Tom Ford Cologne

Friday, February 19, 2010

41. HOLA … NO-LA

I think most ABCDs can relate to this. On some level, we live in a nebulous Indo-American subculture. We’re American enough to blend into the suburbs and run for President. But not American enough to avoid the “ASIAN-AMERICAN” check box on every credit card application and census form we complete. Like me, ABCDs from Birmingham, Alabama and Columbia, Missouri to Phoenix, Arizona have spent a lifetime serving as ambassadors for all inquiries Indian. Yes, I have seen the magnificent Taj Mahal. No, I don’t know “that guy” Omprakash you once met in Omaha. Yes, Hindus believe in God. No, we don’t race camels down the streets of Delhi.

For the most part moving to New York ended my cultural attach̩ days. From the sound of the rumbling subway, to the sight of George Washington Bridge, my new life still takes my breath away. One day Manhattan will kick me down the stairs. Until then I want to remember how I feel now Рgiddy, free, possible.

A shout interrupts my reverie. Across the street a woman leans out of a mini-van and yells, ‘Hola chica’ followed by a stream of words I don’t understand. SURELY she is speaking to someone else. But we’re the only ones on the street. I have no choice but to ask, “Sorry? I don’t speak Spanish.” Why can’t I be witty on demand?

The combination of my Midwestern accent and my internationally Indo-Paki-Perisan-Greco-Latin appearance confuses her. She totally thinks I am Jenny from the Block, not Chaaya from Chandigarh. Then she says, “Can I park here?” Oh she CAN speak English. I point at the sign directly in front of her that reads “NO PARKING ANY TIME”. She sighs, “Do you think I’ll get towed if I leave my car here?” ARGH! Do I look like Rita the lovely Meter Maid?

I grew up following my parents’ animated conversations in Hindi and Punjabi. So I fully advocate preserving cultural heritage. However, public streets are not ideal for busting out your Spanish, Latvian or Tagalog. Despite what I “might look like”, she really should speak English if she wants my help.

This interchange annoys me and I go home to call Jane (Posts 14, 12, 9, 8, 7, 2) and complain. “Oh sweetie, it’s because of where you live,” she says. “Oh…You mean America?” I ask with fake innocence. Jane groans, “I mean Washington Heights! You can be a real pain in the ass.”

I know.

But I thought Manhattan was going to END my identity crisis, not start a whole new one!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Tonight I want to curl up on the couch with a book and pretend the other 8 million people in New York City don’t exist. But my phone rings. Indian Cowboy. I almost don’t answer, but my cousin’s “picky” lecture reverberates in my head.

“Hello?” I ask. “Can you hear me?” Indian Cowboy yells. The call sounds tinny, like he’s inside a Diet Coke can. I pull the phone away from my ear and reply, “Yes.” “Guess what?” he asks. “What?” I reply. “You’re above me,” he says. “Guess how!” “I don’t know,” I respond and set my book aside.

“I realize you don’t drive, but in New York we have cell phone while driving laws…” As he talks, it suddenly strikes me; his competitive pomposity and drinking are about control. Unfortunately for him, credit scores and blue laws can’t reshape my spirit to fit his ideal (subservient) female mold. God gave me a very good education and a mind and I plan to use both. “Actually, I AM familiar with New York freeways. I watch the traffic reports every morning on the news to get my bearings,” I snipe and reveal my inner geek. “I am impressed!” he says. “You should be,” I reply. This man is going to DRIIIIIIVE me to drink. “I put my head piece on and clipped the receiver to the visor to talk to you. That’s how you’re above me,” he explains.

“Uh-huh. What kind of car do you have?” I ask. “Toyota Prius,” he replies. For the love of the goddesses! The virile, country-line dancing, teetotaler folds himself into a teeny tiny electric car? Every conversation we have is more ridiculous than the previous. So I say, “I CANNOT be seen in that. It won’t match my outfit…EVER!” To his credit he roars and cannot stop laughing, which is not good. He is driving. Then poof! No cell phone tower for you! And the line goes dead.

In the silence I feel certain the dropped call is a sign from Durga, a reminder to trust my instincts. And so I do. While I want to get married, it won’t be with a caricature of a desi man!

Toyota Prius

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


My maternal cousin (she lives in India) and I talk more often than our mothers, who are actually sisters.

“How is dating going?” she asks. “Not bad, about one a week.” “That’s it? You need to date five guys at one time,” she instructs. “I better get flashcards to keep them straight,” I mumble. “Who are you talking to now?” she asks. “A teetotaler,” I reply. “So? My husband drinks whiskey and eats meat. I don’t do either. Stop being so picky.”

“Indian Cowboy is weirdly competitive. Last night we discussed the waaaay sexy topic of credit scores,” I say. “And how is his score?” she asks. “INSANELY excellent,” I state. “Then what’s the problem? Do you want to marry a man with bad credit?” she asks. “NOOO! But I’m certain my culinary prowess, tandoori chicken to saag paneer, supersedes his, yet I refrained from boasting.” “He’s a man. He needs to feel superior to you, let him,” she replies. Is she purposely trying to make me crazy? “Indian women must make compromises. I adjusted. Do you think your Mum WANTED to live in Minnesota? You will, too” she states.

These are the times I feel like an ABCD --- American Born CONFLICTED (not confused) Desi. When I was a little girl my mother taught me about Hinduism. But it was the stories specifically about the goddesses Sita (the ideal woman) and Durga (the warrior), that resonated with me, and still do. While Sita’s greatness came from her self-sacrifice and suffering; in my eight year old mind she sounded like the slow kid who didn’t duck and got hit in the face by a rock. A thought that would surely offend (which is not my intent) selfless Indian women worldwide like my cousin and my mother.

Perhaps this is why Durga fascinated me. She was created by the fraternity of male gods to restore their power when they fell from the heavens. And she did. From atop a lion Durga was formidable and victorious in every battle she entered. In my young mind, Durga was smart and powerful -- the type of girl who could handle bus bullies. Back then I never cared that she was the only goddess not affiliated with a god.

Nowadays I think I missed the moral of the Durga story. Even though Durga is revered and celebrated, it doesn’t appear that Indian men desire strong Indian woman, they prefer Sita. So all this time I spent admiring Durga, I should have feared becoming her. Sometimes I wish Durga had stumbled upon Thor and romanced him. Imagine then, how different “herstory” might have been.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I am a creature of habit. Like clockwork I do laundry every Tuesday at 7:30 am.

“Are you a lawyer?” a woman’s voice asks.

I look up from tossing wet clothes into the dryer. It’s the Crazy Lady (Post 23) whose dogs terrorized me in the elevator. “Nope,” I reply. If I were, I should really be in court litigating not separating darks from whites.

“I need a lawyer,” Crazy Lady says. I need stuff, too. A man, a mortgage, a mini-me. Heck, why not toss in an Epi Louis Vuitton bag? And really, while we’re at it, I wouldn’t mind being a tall, slim super-model either. Okay, so some of that is more ‘want’ than ‘need’ ...

“I need to sue Albany,” she says. Against my better judgment I ask, “Why?” “I’m a substitute teacher and they fired me. Can you believe that?” This woman needed to brush her hair three days ago. Since I can smell her tuna fish breath from across the laundry room, her teeth, too. And her pants? I am fairly sure 1971 wants their bellbottoms back. While I don’t advocate home schooling, I would start rather than send my child to this wing nut. So OF COURSE I believe they fired her.

"Be careful," Crazy Lady says. "Of what?" I ask. "The Super. He doesn't like single women," she says. "What?" I ask. "My neighbor used to sell drugs and beat me up. Super did nothing. The Owner tried to kick me out. It's why I got the dogs.”

I don’t know what she is talking about. The Owner and the Super are nice to me. "They'll kick you out if they can find a better tenant,” she says. “Not until my lease expires,” I state. Doesn’t she know this is New York with tenants’ rights laws?

Just then the Super enters the laundry room and avoids her. Crazy Lady leers at me, laughs and leaves. “Stay away from her. She has animals and a dirty apartment,” the Super says. “And she’s crazy.”


Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Bags

Monday, February 15, 2010


The lesson learned from dating Cat Boy, the vegetarian (Post 5), is that desi dietary restrictions are sometimes tricky. In this, my second phone call with Indian Cowboy, I am getting to the bottom of the drinking issue.

“Did your college have a Greek system?” I ask. “Yes, but I wasn’t Greek. Were you?” he asks. “Yep. How else to get beer?” I joke, but really am serious. “So how much do you drink?” Indian Cowboy asks. “You made a reference earlier in the conversation.”

“A few times a week,” I reply. I might be a liiiiiiittle off, but cocktails are as Manhattan as taxi cabs, who really counts? “Is that a problem? Because my work and volunteering have social, sometimes drinking components,” I state, thinking this is going swimmingly! “I understand,” he says and adds. “You know I’m a teetotaler, right?”

Shoot a pickle. My parents are too, but don’t actually label themselves as such. They even have a full bar at home. Of course they don’t know this, but as a teenager I drank some of the vodka and gin and filled the bottles up with water.

Then he says, “I don’t keep alcohol in the house.”

Now I am WORRIED! Reigning in the drinking for THE ONE, is one thing. But frequenting the corner bar because I am not “allowed” to shake my own martini at home is crazy! And then what? I get into my car and drunk drive home? There are 19 million people living in this state! Does this sound like a good idea to anyone?

“What about entertaining?” I ask. “Of course,” he says. “I would never want our guests to be uncomfortable, I’d be okay with beer or wine … for them.”

Not for me? Something about his rigidity is bothersome, but for now, I drop the issue.

New York Census Quick Facts

Friday, February 12, 2010


I am on the phone with Indian Cowboy. He lives outside of the City, so should we decide to date, it will be like a long distance relationship --- long calls late at night and 36 hour weekend dates. And I find grocery shopping challenging enough.

Indian Cowboy is sharing that his Ivy League undergrad education was like a pressure cooker where all they did was study. While I did not attend an Ivy League, my alma mater was an excellent liberal arts college with the third best medical school in the country right behind Harvard and Johns Hopkins. And we partied ... hard. So I am sure that Indian Cowboy has three times the brain cells as me. But as long as I can fend off dementia for a few more decades, I have no regrets.

“So architecture huh?” Indian Cowboy asks. “Were you inspired by Mr. Brady?”

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this, I’d own an apartment. Granted it would be on York Avenue, not Park, but it would be Manhattan real estate none the less. “No, it is what we do in family. My father, my uncles, my brother, too,” I reply. “I understand that. I chose engineering because I like the engineering behind the machines rather than the output," he replies.

Hhmmm, I can barely work my IPod.

“Did I tell you that I like country line dancing?” he asks. “Do you have cowboy boots?” I ask. “Yes. And I teach aerobics too,” Indian Cowboy shares.

Wow! Am I glad to be sober because it takes everything I have to process the image of a 6-1” tall, Billy Ray Cyrus loving, country line dancing, cowboy boot wearing, aerobics teaching Indian engineer. Just as I begin to think how nice it would be date a man who has coordination, the Indian Fred Astaire, he says, and I quote, "Don't worry. I'm quite virile."

The word conjures images of vigor and the stamina to father children. Without the actual production of children HOW does he know he is virile? Or does he have children stashed away in the closet that he plans to reveal in conversation number two?

Mr. Brady

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Unfortunately I suffer from Lucy Van Pelt Syndrome (yes from Peanuts). While bossy and sassy, Lucy was savvy, a female entrepreneur with her own psychiatrist’s booth. She was also SOOOOO in love with Schroeder that she tolerated being constantly slighted no matter how long she sat at the edge of his piano. Like Lucy, I spent a life time selecting Schroeder, who ultimately rejected me.

This is why Meera’s belief, that it is better when the man initiates contact, has merit. It means something in my profile or photos appeals to him. Because he has risked being accepted he is more likely to work at engaging my interest. Despite how many times I get hurt, I can’t stop believing he is out there. So when I receive Indian Cowboy’s communication request, I am hopeful.

From his photos he has a head of Indian uncle hair. It is parted too far to the left and stretched over the dome of his head. He is not bald, but it looks like he tried to straighten his hair – do desi men to this? According to the profile posted by his brother, Indian Cowboy is tall, fair, and in good shape. He is an engineer who eats meat and doesn’t drink. His interests include working out and dance lessons. He is described as chivalrous and funny sounds nice after (Dillweed Post 33 and Mr. Mustachio Post 25). Normally I am suspicious of men who don’t post their profiles. I worry that they are not serious about the search, still under the influence of mummy-papa or shy --- these are NOT the men I wish to meet!

Indian Cowboy's brother’s admiration is evident from his eloquent writing. It is obvious their family is a loving one and this appeals to me. Equally important is that Indian Cowboy is well read and highly educated. As a little girl my mother taught me to respect education and honor Sarasvati, the patron goddess of knowledge. I knew not to touch my feet to paper. I was to treat books as an extension of the divine and that my mind was a gift from God. Since I very much want to meet a man who values family and education – I accept.

Lucy Van Pelt
Peanuts Comic Strip

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


My hair has a mind of its own. Styling requires a regiment of hair products, brushes and hot rollers. Most days the thick, straight mane defies me with its refusal to curl. And if it’s humid, I don’t even bother. I simply pull it back in the manner of a Robert Palmer girl circa 1985.

On the up side I don’t have split ends. But my locks grow fast and are now in desperate need of taming. I do a Google search and find there are as many salons as restaurants in Manhattan. I need a more intimate source and call Jane. She has caller id at the office and answers, “Hi sweetie!” “I need a haircut,” I say. “Any recommendations? What do you pay?” “I know a great place in SoHo. I get cut and color for $400.”

Clearly we have different ideas on the cost of a bob. If I had an extra $400 I’d march into Bloomies and buy a Michael Kors tote, preferably pink. Better yet, I’d put a down payment on some new boobs. At least the bags and boobs are long-term investments. Because THAT is what the world REALLY needs --- Hindu Barbie seeks Hindu Ken for a lifetime of lentils in Barbie Dream Townhouse, with Elevator.

Michael Kors Tote in Blush
Barbie Townhouse with Elevator

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There are only two reasons I would be late for a date, MTA delays or a shoe sale. With my Macy’s bag in hand I dash into the Port Authority. My date is visiting relatives in New Jersey and wanted to avoid Manhattan bound gridlock by riding the bus. Fine with me.

We’ve spoken so I know he’s a fitness fiend who watches a lot of TV and doesn’t drink. His family is from the Indian state of Gujarat. While my Punjabi peeps are gregarious whiskey drinkers, Gujaratis are known to be … how to put this … cheap.

Since I have seen his photos, I easily find Dillweed. “What sounds good for dinner?” I ask. “Burgers, American and Indian. Can’t stand sushi, Thai or anything Asian,” Dillweed replies. “But I just slammed a power shake so I’m not hungry.”

Okay then.

Since I have no idea what to do with this fellow, I suggest we walk along 8th Avenue. This is where Dillweed sees the world’s largest Chevy’s sign against the glow of Times Square. I don’t protest. My love for Mexican is unnatural. Blizzards don’t impede my south of the Taco Bell border runs.

We sit down and I order a margarita. I almost fall over at Dillweed’s root beer request. Who over the age of eight actually orders one in public? I nosh on chips and Dillweed talks about his basement with a pool table, gym and bar (strange for a man who doesn’t drink). "Do you want to see a picture of my TV?” he asks. “No thanks,” I reply. Too late. He is scrolling through his PDA photos as if I don’t know what a TV is. Indians are infatuated with life-sized televisions. My mother has one too.

“Oh here is my house,” he says. His McMansion with faux columns, brick veneer and aluminum siding offends my inner architect. “Are those attic windows or do you have a fourth floor?” I ask. He looks confused and then says, “I think it’s the attic.” He doesn’t KNOW? Clearly he bought the monstrosity to keep-up-with-the-Patels. They got a big house; let’s get a bigger one. They got a Lexus, let’s get two. They got a boat. But we don’t swim. Let’s get it anyway!

Our waiter returns with appetizers, Dillweed’s tortilla soup and my flautas. After four bites he pushes the bowl aside. “Is there something wrong?” I ask. He nods and says, “It’s too spicy.” Are you freaking kidding me? We’re in a Mexican CHAIN restaurant! He’s INDIAN! Did his mother EVER introduce him to a chili pepper? Or was she saving money by under-spicing his food?

When the bill comes he confuses me with a bank and asks if I can break a $20. I politely say no and suggest he ask the server. He puts down some cash and sliiiiiiiides the black plastic money holder across the table. I open it and the reason he is single becomes GLARINGLY apparent. He has a $3000 TV in a four-floor house yet leaves $10 on a $27 bill. Gujarati or otherwise I have never met anyone so stingy. WOW!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010


We are celebrating Rohit’s birthday. Other than Rohit and Meera I really don’t know anyone and sit down at the bar. Normally wine is my drink of choice, but tonight I decide on a “big girl drink” and order a lemon drop martini.

Around midnight, we loudly sing "Happy Birthday Rohit". By this point I am four planets away from sobriety and entering the solar system of wasted at warp speed. I am no lightweight, but, shoot, these are the STRONGEST martinis known to man. And I don’t know if it’s the alcohol or the fact that the room has started to spin, but I give my phone number to some desi guy, who is Rohit’s friend’s friend. He lacks all ability to flirt, but the attention is nice.

When my stomach starts to hurt, I slide off the bar stool. Immediately the room goes really dark. My heart races and beads of sweat run down my back. I’m overheating like a faulty radiator in the desert sun. Despite the drunken blindness that rinses over me I remember to grab my purse and run out of the bar. With cool air against my cheeks, I wobble down the street, turn the corner and hurl my guts out.

At some point, as I am heaving, I realize I am crying from regret. I should have become a banker. I should have lost ten pounds. I should have moved to New York years ago. I should have eaten dinner because the only acceptable reason to be vomiting in a Manhattan back alley at my age is influenza or turista. Then I have a completely lucid moment and whisper to myself, “Do you think boys cry when they puke? Stop being a such a girl and get it together.”

After my system is free of bile and vodka, I lean against the brick building and catch my breath. My head has stopped spinning so that’s a good sign. When my eyes come into focus I see a homeless man with a smudgy face staring at me. He is three feet away and I wonder if he heard my pep talk. I smile but he scowls, points at the puke and says, “Gross!”

Well isn’t this just dandy? I have managed to disgust a man who doesn’t bathe regularly and lives on the streets of New York. Aiy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Dear Readers,

Even the Hindu Valley Girl from the Twin Towns needs a day or two off to rest, or go on dates :). So I thought I'd post blogs 5 times a week, Monday through Friday.

I understand that life is busy, and it seems that 5 weekly updates rather than 7 is also easier to manage as a reader, and as the writer. However, if there is interest in daily posts, including the weekends, please let me know and I am happy to find a balance.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, February 5, 2010


This is TRAGIC! High Tea starts at 4:00 pm, and despite having two closets of clothes, I have NOTHING to wear. My dresses are more corporate raider, than porcelain plates and sterling silverware. The skirts are too flamboyant for a Victorian parlor where ladies lunch on white, lace tablecloths. Convinced that I must have something suitable I rummage through my wardrobe one more time and find a blue and brown patterned camisole, which I pair with pin-striped trousers and a cropped velvet shrug. Phew, crisis averted!

The phone rings and I presume it is Jane (from Posts 14,12,9,8,7, 2).
“I’m almost ready!” I say.
“For what?” my brother asks.
“I thought you were Jane. We’re going to High Tea.”
“Are you British?”
I groan.
“I won’t keep you from your crumpets,” my brother says and chuckles. “But we have some news.”
“What?” I ask.
“Are you ready to be a bhua?” he asks.

“Bhua” is the Hindi word for paternal aunt. For me to become a bhua, means my brother has kids or is going to have kids…which I realize, is why he is calling.

“Hello?” my brother asks. “Are you there?”
“Yes…” Words catch in my throat, not because of a lack of love for them, but sadness for myself.
“At least you won’t be like our bhuas!” he jokes.
Our dad has two sisters, who are gossipy and enormously fat. Paternal genes are all the motivation I need to live a righteous life and work out five times a week.
“Other than family we’re not telling anyone. Can you keep this quiet for now?”
“Sure,” I manage and hang up.

Immediately I feel like a bitch. My feelings of loss and inadequacy are not his fault. He deserves every good thing that comes his way. From helping me paint my condo walls, to installing laminate flooring, he is generous with his time. He’s unflappable --- nothing I say or do surprises him, even the things that should. And his patience is endless. Undoubtedly he will be an amazing dad who raises confident little girls and sons who respect women. Since my brother actually KNOWS how to save money, his kids will have a keen financial prowess that escaped me.

Maybe I’m just a misfit, who never belonged in Minnesota or my own family. In so many ways Manhattan, who doesn’t care about my cultural deficiencies, which are no husband and nor kids, is the perfect place for me and my shortcomings.

Lady Mendl's Tea Salon
New York Top 10 Tea Rooms

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Like a Manhattan sample sale where fights ensue over Botkier bags, grocery shopping today is combative. In less than five minutes I have been shoved, a little old lady searching for radishes drove her cart over my foot and shoppers playing bumper baskets in the next aisle knock down the orange display. I hear someone complaining about the price of lettuce and the deli line is twelve people deep. I am overwhelmed and over-stimulated before I squeeze my first tomato, which is all the motivation I need to shop fast.

Once my groceries are evenly distributed into plastic packets I head to the B/C train. At Columbus Avenue the light turns red and I wait. A homeless man pushing a granny cart stops next to me and says, “Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but I am really hungry and could you help me get a sandwich?”

Even though I just spent $50, I don’t have any cash and say, “I’m sorry I can’t.” He nods and politely says, “Forgive the inconvenience. Thank you for your time.”

He is not the first homeless person I have encountered. I’ve been going to India since I was 2 years old. While homelessness in America is truly tragic, with every Manhattan neighborhood having someone sleeping on the sidewalks, there is nothing that prepares you for New Delhi’s shanty towns filled with naked children.

I glance over at the man. Something about him breaks my heart and I realize I can help. Not with the sandwich he requested, but I have food, and ask. “Would you like some apples?” He smiles warmly and replies, “That would be great. Thank you. You are so kind.”

If I am kind, he is bold. I cannot imagine the toll homelessness takes to his pride. Is he all alone? Did he lose everything? Are his friends looking for him? What a risk to assume, asking strangers for help. Destiny is truly a fine line, and in a city like New York, what really separates the destitute from the bountiful? I hope I never find out and give him the fruit.

“Bless you,” he says and then adds. “You’re really beautiful.”

Okay, a thank you was MORE than adequate. And the way I look today (no make-up, pony-tailed hair that should have been washed yesterday, and an upper lip in dire need of waxing) I am the opposite of beautiful. He must be delirious from hunger. Good thing I gave him those apples.

Botkier Bags

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Desi speed dating is tonight, at a bar near Rohit and Meera’s apartment.

When I arrive at the event I find the men huddled around the TV and the women in the back chatting. Immediately I am reminded of the Indian dinner parties I attended as a kid. The aunties used to gather in the kitchen cooking dinner and knitting sweaters. In the living room, the uncles told stories and drank Johnny Walker Black. We kids hid in the basement, girls to one side and boys to another. Flash-forward to now, and we continue to segregate along gender lines. Are we our parents?

After we all check in, the organizer explains how the rotation process works and the dating begins.

Date One: is heavily accented, does not smile or find me funny.
Date Two: wears a suit one size too big and says, “I suppose you’re like the other girls and want a doctor.” I reply, “if I wanted a doctor, I should hang out in an ER, don’t you think?” He laughs, grabs his drink and misses his mouth. “Why aren’t you married?” he demands. OUCH! I didn’t ask him about the drinking problem he so clearly has. “Because I was concentrating on work and grad school. And now I’m ready to focus on other life decisions,” I reply. “Life decisions, is that girl code for marriage?” he sneers. I don’t know if he’s belligerent or insecure, but this eight minute date is lasting a lifetime.

I happen to look up and spot Meera and Rohit sneaking into the bar. I told them I was here but never expected to see them. Are they seriously going to watch?

Date Three: nurses a Scotch and is a freshly fresh FOB (fresh off the boat). He sits down and WOW does he smell like funk and ketchup. He should rethink wearing a polyester shirt. It’s trapping the stink of his body odor at the table and I can’t hold my breath for eight minutes. “Do you bhangra dance?” he asks. “Yes,” I reply and practice nose breathing. “We should go some time,” he suggests. Not until he masters Speed Stick.

At the end of the dates I’m relieved to see friendly faces and go the bar. “How was it?” Meera asks. “My choices are Moody, Drunky or Stinky.” The bartender (a woman) hears me, laughs and sets a glass of red wine in front of me. “So I’m sticking with single tonight,” I reply. “For now, I agree,” Rohit says in his big brother voice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I am spiritual, not religious (I won’t even pretend to know why the cow is holy). Though my family eats meat, we abstain on Tuesdays and growing up, my brother and I never questioned why. As an adult curiosity compelled me to investigate and I learned Tuesdays were associated with the god Hanuman. Refraining from meat symbolized my respect and reverence for him and he in turned granted me with fortitude and strength. For me, not eating meat on Tuesdays is mock chicken soup for my soul and I continue the practice.

When a 43-year old consultant asks me out for a Tuesday dinner date I think nothing of it and accept. Besides, he’s decent looking and an eloquent writer (I will take brains over beauty any day). He works in the Financial District and I live in the Heights, but he selects an Upper West Side Latin restaurant, “for my convenience.”

I step into the broodingly sexy restaurant and am deafened by the music. I find my date at the bar and join him. He chats about work and his upcoming trip to New Delhi. This allows me to pipe in with my joke about the three religions of India: Bollywood, cricket and politics. He (FOB) seems surprised that I (ABCD) know things about India. I really wish Indians in India understood that American birthright did not negate growing up desi. I, too, had a sari-clad mother, smelled like cooked onions, and sprouted more facial hair than a billy goat. The difference being, I was a desi in the snow.

“We should share the paella. It is fantastic,” he suggests. I reach for the menu and my quandary ensues. The majority of the entrées are beef, which I don’t eat. While the paella is seafood, it is technically meat. But I don’t want my date thinking I’m an ultra-religious, temple-going devotee, so I say, “Sure, paella sounds great.” I will make tomorrow a “meatless make-up” day.


The next day I send him a thank you email, hoping the rest of his evening was pleasant. He went to a birthday party after meeting me. It occurs to me, Calle Oche might have been selected for his convenience, not mine. A few days later I remember he is leaving for India and wish him safe travels.

When Meera (Posts 26, 21) calls for a recap, she groans with annoyance. “Who goes to a birthday party on a Tuesday night? That was his escape! And you called him AFTER you emailed him?” “What’s the big deal? He’s probably busy and I was being polite,” I explain. “The big deal is he thinks you’re a stalker. Stop treating him like a friend. This is dating!”

Monday, February 1, 2010


My friend Meera (from Post 21), her husband, Rohit, and I are sitting in a wine bar. I am summarizing my dating highlights, or perhaps lowlights is more accurate. Rohit nods thoughtfully and says, “I think you’re funny and upbeat. I don’t get these guys.” “Thanks,” I reply. “Hhhmm, listening to you just now, it struck me --- you might the problem,” Meera says. Rohit’s head jerks and he stares at her with incredulous eyes.

Her comment intrigues me. I realize I’m not perfect. I work at being strong in my broken places. And if there are ways for me to better myself I am open to suggestions. I also know Meera would never intentionally hurt me; I trust her unconditionally and so I say, “tell me more.”

“I agree with Rohit, you’re great. But we’re you’re friends, we already love you,” Meera says, her hands gesticulate, emphasizing her point. “And this is New York with tons of single women, and not enough men. They are the ones who get to pick and choose. So you have to treat dating like a job, with a strategy and goal: how to make them fall in love with you. Then YOU decide if YOU want them.”


Meera continues, “I read this book called How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With You, and you should, too.”

Rohit laughs and quips, “And I read a book called She’s Read ‘How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With You’ So Employ These Tactics to Woo Her While She Thinks She Wooing You.”

“This book could help her,” Meera argues genuinely. Rohit shakes his head. She glares at her husband. “I think she’s intimidating. She talks too fast. Her mind is equally fast paced. She’s always over-dressed, has opinions and dark manicures. It’s too much for a guy,” Meera says to him and points at my nails painted in Chanel’s Vamp.

Irritation washes across Rohit’s face and seeps down into his body. “So she should say nothing and wear sweatpants?” Rohit challenges. “I think she should be herself.”

I think they should keep talking about me like I am not sitting here.

“I didn’t say otherwise,” Meera snaps. “It has been proven that whoever talks more on a date thinks they had a better experience. And the person not doing the talking won’t have a good experience because they didn’t learn anything. My point is she should talk less, wear lighter nail polish and be soft.”

Because Rohit and I cannot argue with statistics we simply sip our drinks.

“I also think you should maximize dating opportunities,” Meera says to me.
“What do you suggest?” I ask.