Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Both Jane and Meera have called to let me know that in addition to being hot, it is so steamy outside that they both have uncontrollable, untamable frizzy hair. “Don’t bother curling your hair,” Jane advised. While Meera’s suggestion was, “Don’t wear a lot of clothes.” Hhhmm, my date with perfect Reindeer is going akimbo before it starts.

Because I am in my third week of sobriety, going on my third Reindeer date, I toss some caution to the wind and wear the outfit I wore on the Sikh Banker date (Post 55). When I get to Bowling Green, the Native American Museum captures my attention. The beautiful stone building is ornamented with gargoyles. I read that there are thousands of gargoyles all over the City. Though they began as throats to direct water, they became synonymous with warding off evil spirits. In some ways, I think they keep me safe.

The majestic columns are so mesmerizing that I don’t notice Reindeer until he says, “You look like a tourist.” “This building is stunning. Have you been inside?” I ask. He shakes his head. “But I see it every day. Shall we go?” I nod and say, “Once we get to Staten Island I will have officially been in all five boroughs.” He looks amused, “How long have you lived here?” Reindeer asks. “Six months,” I reply. “There are some New Yorkers who have never left Manhattan,” Reindeer says. “Those people are stupid,” I reply. He laughs, big and rich. “You’re something else!” Hhmmm that must be good right?

We board the Staten Island Ferry and head to the top level. The breeze feels amazing in the oppressive humidity. I turn back to look at Manhattan, the larger than life City, fading in the distance and she steals my breath. For the first time it finally strikes me. I live on that island that does not seem to sink under the weight of 8 million people and thousands of buildings.

We sail past Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and I return my attention to Reindeer who chat about his day. Once we get to Staten Island we hail a cab to Bocelli (the Zagat rated restaurant Reindeer selected). Though the décor is painted with frescoes and feels very Italian, it’s in an ordinary strip mall found anywhere from Minnesota to New Jersey.

To be cont.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The next morning, after warming up from freezing to death in Fairway I get on the computer where I find an email from the desi Banker (from Posts 60, 59, 56)  who writes:


Thought I’d send you my new email address. Hoping you had a nice weekend. My week is busy taking care of loose ends. But I am in New York all next week. If you’re free on the 4th, I’d love to hang out.

Take care.
Desi Banker 

I don’t surprise or shock very easily. I was a sorority girl who grew up to advise 80 sorority girls, so pretty much, I have seen and heard it all. But I presumed I’d never hear from the Hermes suited serial skinny dating Banker. He made it clear that he did not find me physically attractive. And two weeks have elapsed since our date. Men who are interested never take THAT long to call back. 

Then there is my very bad habit of over-analyzing everything, which has me speculating what “would love to hang out” means. I find, when men use borderline intimate words/phrases like “love” or “I’m excited to see you” --- I cannot stop thinking they are either gay or horny.

While most of me (my heart) is really interested in Reindeer, a part of me (my head) feels I should be smart about this, and keep my options open. Three dates doth not make a Reindeer relationship. Sure, Reindeer and I are scheduled for a Staten Island date tomorrow. But he has not made mention of his 4th of July plans, and whether they include me.

So I email the Banker back and say yes, sure, let’s hang out on the 4th of July. No one knows where destiny will take us until we get there.


On Day 13 of my new and shiny sober life Meera, Jane and I are meeting for dinner. Without planning it, Meera and I arrive at the same time and find a table. Close an hour later Jane blows in like a tornado --- loud and unpredictable --- sharing she was buying discounted plates in a New Jersey Marshalls. This makes me cringe. Meera, like me, is punctual for being desi, so tardiness won’t highlight Jane’s best qualities. It takes a few minutes, but Jane and Meera hit it off splendidly. Phew! 

“Tell us about Reindeer!” Jane says and sips a beer. Watching my friends drink without me is not as hard as I thought. “He asked me out for Friday…” I begin. “NOOOO!” Jane yelps. “My birthday is my Friday…” “If you would let me finish,” I insert. “I told him I had plans. So Date Number 3 is Thursday.” “Ooo! What are the plans?” Meera asks.

Since we are girls, I recount every GIRLY detail. “We’re taking the Staten Island Ferry and having an Italian dinner.” “WOW!” Meera says. “The New York Magazine JUST had an article about that!” “That is a cool date,” Jane exclaims. “What is really cute is that he told me dinner was on him and the tickets were on me.” “But is a free ferry,” Jane says, confused. “I know, that was his joke,” I reply. “He’s a funny fob! Very nice!” Meera says. “I am in charge of short listing restaurants and he will make the final selection,” I reply.

Unbeknownst to me, because my phone was tucked away in my purse, I don’t realize Reindeer called until Jane and I are en route to Fairway for birthday party groceries. Evidently the proper way to celebrate Jane’s 33rd birthday involves a fiesta with nachos, tacos, beans for the vegetarians, guacamole, margaritas, and some beer based Mexican drink. On the short ride to the grocery store I repeated play Reindeer’s message for Jane, “Hi, it’s Reindeer. I’m just calling to say hi.” “Men only call to say hi when they are interested!” Jane announces. I agree.

My inaugural trip to Fairway as a sign. It is as though my conversations with Reindeer are coming to life. Meera took me to yoga last week. Now Jane and I stand outside of the Cold Room pulling on jackets that say “FAIRWAY” on the back. No stealing!

I grew up in Minnesota, which sometimes felt like life on an iceberg. While I have never been frostbitten, I have been cold to the bone. I know cold. I understand cold. But nothing prepares you for the Cold Room. Sure the denim skirt, tee-shirt, and open toed sandals aren’t helping. This is the Manhattan tundra!

I CANNOT wait to tell Reindeer about this outing!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


The 4 days, 96 hours 5,760 minutes between Reindeer’s call and our next date, tick by SOOOO slowly. The last time I felt attraction and connection so strong was when my path collided with Kehar Singh  (Post 4).

As I get ready I am giddy (and empowered from the departure from drinking). I remind myself that I will eventually have to reign in this Reindeer excitement, but for now, I release and dance around the apartment. For this date I abide the teachings of the fashionistas and select a fitted white sleeveless linen shell and pair it with a white flowy skirt embroidered with red flowers and green leaves along the bottom. My shoes are sexy brass colored strappy four-inch sandals. Prepare to be shocked, they are amazingly comfortable. I can (and have) walked 20 blocks in them.

An hour before the date I leave my apartment (commute time and 5 minutes for getting lost). When I get 28th Street and Park Avenue, I head west instead of east. I have not mastered direction when I reappear from the subway. I arrive at Chennai Garden and Reindeer sees me. His smile fills up his cheeks, and his teeth, while not straight are very bright and balance his large (because his hair is receding) forehead. He stows his Blackberry and gets up to peck me on the cheek. He has a nice 5’-10” build, strong and masculine. Love the biceps! He wears a button-down with rolled sleeves and dress pants.

We review the menu and I decide on my usual paper plain dosa (typical and infamous South Indian crepes made from rice flower and lentils, and then filled with a “masala” a spiced potato mixture). When Reindeer learns my intent, he insists I try something new and offers to select things for us to share. SWOON!

Over dinner he shares how he considered a desi military career so seriously that he took a two-day train trip from Delhi to Bangalore. But his eyes were too weak for the Air Force. So he came to America for graduate study.

After dinner we retire to the Brasil Coffee House and I insist on paying. I am really bad at accepting gifts. I once refused a friend who tried to buy me a $2 croissant. Reindeer and I sit down at a window seat. I turn my body towards him and cross my legs, creating open body language (teachings from 'How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You'). He tells me about moving from “down south” to New York with a woman. She got into graduate school and he not only followed her to the City, but into her apartment. In addition to living in sin, he recalls buying pot in Washington Square Park. Okay, then, good to know you were once a stoner.

It matters not. I’m totally interested and beyond smitten. For a change, I know Date Three is imminent.

Friday, March 26, 2010


On a beautiful Saturday afternoon Jane (Posts 41, 14, 12, 9, 8, 7, 2)  rummages through my kitchen cupboards. She loves to cook and considers herself something of an international foodie. However, Jane has come into the habit of buying pre-made spice packets (think desi taco seasoning), adding chicken and calling it dinner. So I had no choice but to burst her bubble and explain Indian cooking was a time consuming and arduous process. It is not like opening a can and poof, Manwiches are made!

First there is the chopping of onions. Then the onions are browned with ginger, and sometimes tomatoes and garlic. This is followed by the addition of spices and then the sloooooow cooking vegetables or meats over a low flame (assuming you have a gas stove). Five hours later, dinner is served.

Since I asked Jane to stop purchasing bastardized desi cooking products from Trader Joe’s, I felt obligated to show her what real desi women stock. This is why jars of brown, red and yellow spices are displayed on the counter. I want her to see and smell cumin, paprika, turmeric, and coriander in order to appreciate robust desi flavors.

When the phone rings I glance at the number, squeal (and scare Jane) and run into the other room. “Hello?” I ask hoping he cannot hear my delight. “How are you today?” Reindeer asks. “Great! And you?” I ask. “Good, good. So I was thinking since you don’t eat meat on Tuesdays, how do dosas and Brazilian coffee sound this coming Tuesday?” Uhhmm, let’s see…PERFECT! I am OVERJOYED to FINALLY meet a man who is attractive (despite his outdated photos and bald spot) and LISTENS to me! Calmly I respond with, “Sounds nice.”

Wow…am I glad I quit drinking on Thursday! My stars must already be cleaning themselves up! Had I known dates would come so easily sans the vino, I should have stopped drinking a long time ago!!!


Thursday, March 25, 2010


There are two reasons I am not close with most of cousins (a) they live 10,000 miles away in India and (b) television shows like Dallas and Dynasty where kids disrespect their parents, drink and divorce have lead my conservative cousins to decide I am immoral like J.R. Ewing and Alexis Carrington.

Never mind that my parents’ generation was probably more conservative than their desi counterparts in India. I think our immigrant parents feared what America might teach us: disobedience and sex with white people. But I guess if my cousins (34 on my dad’s side and 11 on my mom’s side) want to be closed minded, it’s fine. I’m not begging them into accepting me.

Thursday night comes along and I’m watching Frasier re-runs and my phone rings. It’s my cousin (Post 39), who lives in Bangalore. She asks how dating is going and I gush about Reindeer for 15 minutes. She listens but doesn’t say anything, which is VERY unusual for her. Like me, she does not lack for opinions. She asks me to run through Reindeer’s biodata aka matrimonial curriculum vitae (Post 43). Then she asks who else I am seeing. Has she been listening to me? I have yet to “date” anyone, nor has a desi man excited me!

“What happened to that Banker?” she asks (Post 60, 59,  56). “He didn’t call me. And he seems to only date skinny girls.” She sighs and says, “I saw the pandit about why you’re not getting married.” Pandits are Indian priests. “And?” I ask, fearing what she will say.

“From your janampatri your stars are really strong.” Janampatris are birth charts. They are scientific and systematic using an individual’s birth time and date to calculate the position of the stars, planets and the sun, to recreate the day you were born. For those who believe, pandits can determine a person's life, now and in the future. Of course, fatalist Indians have faith in what they cannot see or explain, but feel. And they accept that God not humans control everything. After a long pause she says, “And your stars are repelling marriage.”

It is always delightful to learn I am my very own marriage repellent. “He says that alcohol negatively affects your stars.” Okay, that sucks. “Do you drink that much?” she asks. What planet is this woman living on? “Uhm, well…I can keep up with sailors during Fleet Week,” I reply drily. And yes, I realize this is not an attractive quality in a pint-sized woman. “Oh really?” she asks in that Indian whispery way of shocked surprise, the same way Americans whisper cancer and then resume normal dinner conversation. “You need to quit for a while,” she replies.

Well, if there was ever a reason to quit drinking, fixing my pesky matrimonial stars is it!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There are benefits to working from home. My attire of sweat pants saves on dry cleaning. Since I don’t apply make-up daily, my skin will thank me in the future. Setting my hours has pluses and minuses. The former being I can meet Meera for an afternoon yoga class in Chelsea. The latter is I sit in front of the computer for 12 hours a time.

Meera and I meet in the lobby of Integral Yoga Institute. She cited the store Shoegasm as a landmark. Is New York great or what? Yoga and shoes in the same sentence?

We walk to our classroom and I find the yoga studio’s silence unnerving. I’m a chatty girl living in a LOUD City, so where exactly did the honking cars and rumbling buses go? As Meera and I set up our mats I feel like a cliché, a desi girl doing yoga. Will coordination and flexibility be expected because I am Indian? Perhaps the residual effects of growing up brown in homogenous state where I served as the local Indian expert never really go away.

When the class starts the instructor asks us to clear our minds of thoughts and meditate. Do I do this? No. Instead, I AGAIN obsess about the QUIET. You can forget me mastering breathing because my mind is assembling a grocery list. Oohh and the memory of those pink and white shoes in the Shoegasm window come back to me. I hope they’re on sale!

Eventually I submit to the practice and forget the shoes and groceries. My body moves through foreign but soothing poses. Ninety minutes later the class ends and tears sting my eyes. For a few moments I experience something new, peace. In this serene moment I let go and my soul tingles.

I get home and sip some wine. I check my cell phone message and nothing from Reindeer. So sad. I wander into the bedroom and plop onto the bed. I call Abby (a college chum) from the land line. Since we’re girls, we squeal about my perfect Reindeer date. After Abby and I finish a 52 minute conversation I go back to the living room, and see a missed call. Reindeer! I hit the voicemail and listen. “Last night the restaurant and company were lovely. Why don’t you call me when you have a chance?”

Of course, I do! And we chat until 11 pm! WAAAAY beyond his bedtime! So he MUST like me right?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


After an I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-Y delightful dinner, Reindeer immediately reaches for the bill and pays. We both have long train rides home and need to use the unisex loo. He goes first. When it is my turn, I debate leaving my purse at the table. There is no cash to steal since I don’t carry any, ever. On the off chance Reindeer is a serial killer and rifles through my things, he won’t find my address because I still use my Minnesota Drivers License. The New York DMV is not an inviting place. Either is the bathroom so I leave my handbag behind.

While washing my hands I notice a dozen three-ounce votives adorning the six-foot long sink area, each with a trimmed yellow rose. One votive is missing a flower and I contemplate taking a flower for myself. They are so pretty. But they are in the toilet room and my pants don’t have pockets. So Reindeer will know I stole a toilet flower.

We collect our things and leave. Under a cloudless, starless, rainless sky we walk in a blissful, perfect silence. At the traffic light Reindeer presents me with the missing toilet flower. I am at once moved and disgusted.

We’re back in Grand Central Station and Reindeer has about 10 minutes before his 11:11 pm train leaves. At 11:08 pm the weird moment of goodbye arrives. He does not initiate a handshake, hug or kiss. Instead he says, “So…I’ll…we…see…talk…later.” What? Am I dating the desi Yoda? Don’t we have a totally amazing connection? What else could a toilet flower mean? 

While Meera would have my head (we can all agree I have made a dating faux pas here and there) I lean forward and hug the inarticulate Mr. I’ll-We-See-Talk-Later. He seems to be fine with the hug. As we draw away, I peck him on the cheek so there is no mistake about my interest. The next move, i.e. making a second date is now in his court.

I walk away smiling so big my face might break. For the first time I KNOW he will call again. I am unable to shake the feeling that he is the elusive, THE ONE.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Once outside of Grand Central Station Reindeer looks down the sidewalk and says, “One of my batch mates works around here.” “Batch mate,” I repeat. “Is a word only desis use.” He agrees and two blocks later an extremely friendly staff speedily seats us.

With menus in hand Reindeer asks, “Who do you find attractive.” Hhhmm, this is a tricky date inquiry. Through telepathy I ask Reindeer, “What is the correct answer to your broad question? You. George Clooney. My neighbor Wyatt?” As though he read my mind Reindeer adds, “Someone I have heard of.” Ah, and I reply, “Patrick Dempsey, Jason Lewis, Mathew McConaughey, Rob Lowe and Val Kilmer.” Reindeer shakes his head. “Val Kilmer I know. Are the others TV stars? I don’t have a television.” What? Who doesn’t watch TV? It is the best thing on earth! So what if it’s dumbing down America! I’m already educated!

“Who is on your list?” I ask. “Eva Longoria, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Terri Hatcher, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz,” he replies. “Cami Dee?” I say. For some reason her appearance on his list makes me feel bad about myself. He laughs very deep and sexy, and asks, “Why?” “You’re like the international love machine,” I state. “Except Cameron doesn’t fit.” He looks me square in the eye, “I prefer brunettes.” Swoon!!!

After we order appetizers and dinner, he tells me about his seafood allergy. Because north Indians (Delhites, Punjabis, Rajputs) are landlocked, we aren’t fish eaters like the coastal Goans, Keralites, and Bengalis. So I ask, “Did you learn of your allergy the hard way?” Sheepishly he nods and shares, “We went for a fancy seafood dinner and as soon as we were finished I felt ill. My body broke out in hives and I was…” This is when he realizes vomiting is not appropriate dinner or date conversation.

I nod and say, “I know what happens next. I’ve been food poisoned.” I don’t care what anyone says, it is worse than the flu. You have no control over your body’s violent desire to purge the toxins, before food literally kills you. The first day you think you are dying and the second day you wish you were dead. “Did the hives go away?” I ask. “I had this friend who was studying medicine who told me to use calamine lotion. So I stripped to my shorts and rubbed it all over my body.” Interesting. Should I read into the sub-text?

“Do you like fruits?” Reindeer asks. “Yes. Berries and watermelon. And of course mangoes, the national fruit of India!” I reply. “Every summer my parents would bring home buckets of mangoes and my brother and I would sit in the kitchen in our shorts and eat the sticky, sweet fruit,” Reindeer says. “You spend a lot of time in your shorts,” I finally say, addressing my concern that he references to his shorts could be pervy. But he genuinely seems embarrassed.

To be cont.

Friday, March 19, 2010


For the Reindeer date, I decide affirmatively NOT to wear the “date” outfit (black pants and black and white wrap top) or jeans. Both of these outfits are jinxed. I opt for brown pants with a white pinstripe, a brown and light blue printed silk sleeveless shell and my denim bolero, to soften the dressiness of my outfit. Denim, I swear is amazing. So is the miracle of adding elastane (stretch) to EVERYTHING!

I arrive at the Grand Central Station Clock Tower. This thing is NOT a tower. My mind thinks of a long spire or Big Ben. Not a lamppost with an orb shaped clock at the top. Ten minutes later I spot Reindeer. He’s in a brown suit with beige pinstripes and a blue and white checked shirt (we’re dressed in the same color scheme). He’s carrying a laptop, walking around and unsuccessfully looking for me

Hhhmm. He DOES NOT look like his photos. His hair recedes further than his photos imply. His hair is thinner and greyer along the sideburns and neckline. Clearly his photos are outdated. And he looks 45 not 39. I hope he didn’t lie about his age! Then turns around and I see bald spot. But I decide that I’m already down here and might as well meet him.

I walk over to him and say, “Reindeer?” He does have a handsome face, huge smile and warm brown eyes. “Nice to meet you. There was some problem with the train.” I nod and say, “So I thumbed through my Zagat and have some choices for dinner,” I reply. Okay, the truth is, I have a selection of six restaurants: three Italian, two Asian and one Latin, for Reindeer to pick from.

Later, when I tell this to Meera, she will be annoyed and say. “What? No. You need to pick one place and tell him that is where you are going. This looks like a lot of work and he’ll think you’re more into him than you really are.”

As I am explaining the choices he stares at me, intensely, and for a really long time, nine seconds, which does not seem that long, but Americans can generally handle about four seconds of silence and this is twice as long. His look can best be described as either he thinks I am pretty, or a bird has crapped in my hair and he is wondering how to tell that to a more or less total stranger.

We decide on the Vietnamese place and I say, “While I can get into Grand Central, I can never get out. You have to lead the way to dinner.” Reindeer laughs and graciously guides the way tonight.

To be cont.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


After saying good night to the desi Banker, I duck into the subway station and wait a few minutes. Yes, absolutely, this was a nice first date. Conversation with the Banker was easy and had amazing depth, broaching many topics --- arts, life, India, music, movies. He was fun and engaging, but I didn’t have that za za zoom! It was TOO comfortable, like a friend. So I am assuming I'll never from him again.

I check the time on my mobile phone, thinking for sure the desi Banker must be blocks away and I pop out of the subway. I scan the street up and down. Excellent. No sign of Banker. I begin walking west towards 8th Avenue. By the time I get home it will be 10:30 pm and too late to call Reindeer and coordinate tomorrow’s dates.

As I clip clop along 53rd Street I return Reindeer’s call. “Well, hello,” Reindeer says. Swoon. Love, love, love his voice. “Sorry I missed your call. We were finishing dinner,” I reply. Ooo, good cover! “I’m headed west for the A train so you are going to join me on the walk and ignore the Midtown honking,” I say. My timing could not have been better. The moment I finish my sentence the light turns green and the overly anxious taxis start honking. Reindeer laughs and then details his day. He then asks if I should really be walking alone so late. This is refreshing, a man concerned about safety. “I’m fine,” I reply, moving like a native New Yorker, at a marathon pace, with my cell phone attached securely to my ear.

By the time I reach Columbus Circle we have decided to meet at 6:00 pm at the clock tower in Grand Central Station, which in my mind is not really a tower, but it is a clock. Because I am a control freak and cannot eat meat on Tuesday, I offer to select the restaurant, which is agreeable to Reindeer. Before we hang up he makes a joke, “I’ll be wearing a white suit coat and holding a flower.” I reply, “I’ll write your name on a placard.”

All over India in the airports throngs of chauffeurs wait, holding placards so arriving desis from abroad can locate the driver who will take to you grandma’s house. At other airports, such as Bangalore, after you collect your bags, greeters offer you a flower welcoming you to their city. Too bad the pollution will kill the flower the moment you leave the leave the air-conditioned airport. But the thought is nice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Because I want to WOW the Banker, I obsess about attire. Where are Stacy London and Clinton Kelly when I REALLY need them? I hit speed dial and detail the situation to Meera, who replies with, “Toss caution aside. You're too together, too intimidating. So jeans and your wrap top. Dressy casual.” When another person knows what is in your closet, this is a SUPER good friend!

I get to the restaurant before the Banker. When he arrives I note his salt and pepper hair, specs, $5,000 Hermes power suit, shiny wing tips and the juggling act of two mobile phones. I should have known better than to don jeans when meeting a Banker. How did the goddesses allow this to happen? 

“Let’s start with a drink,” Banker suggests. We’re in optimal date seating assignment, at a table for four, side by side. The book How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With You, suggests you should express interest through touch, so I reach out and brush his hand. Banker’s eyes grow big, like I just doused him with kerosene and set him on fire.

After drinks we find an Indian restaurant. When our food arrives the Banker tosses his tie over his shoulder, then sets his elbow in something wet. "Oh shit," he says really loudly. (Please note: I am a really loud person, so when I say he was loud, he was loud!) When he realizes it’s water and not oily turmeric that permanently stains clothes a golden spice, he is relieved.

We are having pleasant dinner conversation when I hear my phone ringing. I know it is Reindeer calling to confirm tomorrow’s date details. Since I don’t wear watches on dates, I slyly try and figure out how to check my phone for the time. As if on cue, the goddesses align the planets (making up for letting me go on a date in jeans) because the Banker asks for the check.

Banker walks me to the subway. On the way we pass an Ann Taylor store and he tells me about a former girlfriend who wore size 00 long pants. Not only was that woman tall, she was rail thin! Which suggests to me, a short curvy me doesn't stand a chance with the serial size skinny dater.

We arrive at the subway station and Banker asks, “Are you sure you're okay to ride the subway so late?” We look at his watch and I learn it is 9:45 pm. Excellent! “The subway is fine.” I say. Reindeer goes to sleep at 10:00 pm so I have 15 minutes to confirm tomorrow’s date!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Okay … so I neglected to mention something. When I spoke with Reindeer I did most of the talking (Meera was NOT pleased when I admitted this). And she was less pleased that he ended the call (even if he had to go to sleep). She feels he currently has all the power. (Relationship power, like trying to find a husband, are two things I am going to become obsessed with --- stay tuned).

So yes, I’m a little worried that I scared off a possible desi husband candidate. However, my wooing crimes are evidently a non-issue. Two days later Reindeer is calling to “catch-up”. Men do not call unless they are interested. Phew! Mental note to self, reign in the talking!

In this conversation Reindeer tells me he is an avid yoga fan. Yoga makes me feel like a cliché --- desi girl does yoga and then goes home to curdle her own yogurt. So I share I’m a bit of gym addict who enjoys volunteering. Because I really want Reindeer to like me, I don’t tell him about my dream. In case he wants a “professional” wife i.e. doctor, lawyer, and banker --- my writing aspirations might turn him off. I should have been more worried that I was trying to change for someone I hadn’t even met yet.

The volunteering comment leads Reindeer to reveal that he once bought a homeless man a Big Mac value meal -- evidently from the only McDonald's drive-through in Manhattan off of the West Side Highway in Harlem. Since we’re on the topic of Harlem, Reindeer asks if I have ever been to the Cold Room at Fairway Market. I say no. Reindeer says the Cold Room is SOOOOO cold that Fairway has jackets for patrons to wear. Interesting. I wonder how cold is SOOOOOO cold. After all I am from Minnesota. Then he tells me stopped drinking alcohol in January. Hhhmm. His profile didn’t say he was a teatotaller. So I probe a little and he says, he just stopped, maybe for a year, he would wait and see. Okay, I can deal with that.

At the end of the conversation, Reindeer asks if I would like to meet up next week. Since I have already made a date with the Banker on Monday, I suggest Tuesday and Reindeer agrees.

See Meera (Posts 54, 53, 35, 28, 26, 21), with dates back to back, I do know what I am doing!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Around 9 pm my phone rings. It is the 39 year old management consultant originally from Delhi. I contacted him through the matrimonial site a few days ago and he sent his number, saying he would be in touch. His photos were unique. I think they were professionally done at a mall shop like Glamour Shots. The background is a beach and he’s wearing a white linen shirt and pants combo, sporting sunglasses on his forehead like a Bollywood star.

I let the phone go to voicemail (nobody tell my mother I didn’t immediately pick up when an eligible desi bachelor called). But I’m not in the mood to be witty and charming. However, I have two incarnations worth of Hindu mom guilt bubbling under the surface. And toss in the fact that I don't want to be alone forever, I make a deal. I will listen to the message. If his voice is pleasant I will return the call and fabricate some reason for missing him, like I was tossing out the trash.

Lo and behold, not only is his voice pleasant (a little American, a little Indian, and quite a bit British) it is the BEST male voice I have ever heard. It is one tone shy of deep, enough British to sound intelligent and a little bit casual American sexy.

The conversation is fluid. He tells me about his recent move and that he moves almost every year. I find this interesting. I don’t plan to move unless I find an affordable place on the Upper East Side or amass a huge pile of dollars to buy an apartment in Manhattan.

Reindeer then shares he is waiting for his bed. I am not sure if my interest should be peeked or freaked. After the ODDBs (Posts 16 and 17) and You Taste Like Chicken (Post 22), my “lewd’ meter is on high alert. I say nothing which leads Reindeer to explain that his furniture order is impending because the store is dilly dallying with delivery. He admits to being frustrated but shakes it off with a regal laugh. I can literally hear the smile in his voice. For a refreshing change (like when it’s mojito weather) I’m genuinely enjoying this “getting to know you” session.

We chat for almost 90 minutes. In which time I learn his parents and my aunt live in the same area of Delhi. In fact when Reindeer and I visit Delhi, we shop at the same markets --- Alaknanda and GK. His surname is the same as a family name on my father’s side. His father's name is my cousin's name. This NEVER HAPPENS to me, instant clicking with a man with a great voice who I have TONS in common! I’m almost giddy, thinking, believing, hoping, could my luck finally be changing?

Friday, March 12, 2010


After meeting Sardar (Post 55), I really believe my luck is changing. I’m in my “not” couture of yoga pants exchanging contact information with Desi Banker. On paper Desi Banker is EXACTLY who I seek --- well educated from Indian boarding school, to IIT (India's Ivy League), to a full-ride scholarship for graduate study in America. He's fit, attractive, loves to dine, successful, and here is the clincher, and he is actually honest about his skin color.

I might have mentioned that Indians are obsessed with skin color, and while I don’t care, I am suspicious when a man says he is fair but turns out to be darker. I mean really, if he is going to lie about WHAT I CAN SEE (since I am not blind), what else is a man willing to lie about?

I flop onto the couch and debate what to do with my night when the phone rings. It is a New Jersey area code and decide to pick up. Oh my, it is Desi Banker asking if this is a good time to talk. Why not? I mean how many times can I adjust my makeshift bun?

We talk about our families and siblings. He asks me why I moved to NYC and I’m honest and say, I'm an aspiring writer. He finds my ambition noble, saying few people care about their dreams. As we chat about independent films and Amy Winehouse, he shares his former life in Minneapolis. Turns out the Desi Banker has lived all over the country from Indiana, Minnesota, Washington, Georgia, Texas and now New York. Because the Banker really enjoyed life in Minnesota (snowshoeing at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, to hiking north of Duluth and running along the trails in Minneapolis), an intimate connection forms --- not in a sexual way, but a genuine commonality. He asks me about Uptown eateries and his old haunts, and end up laughing at how much we strangers have in common.

After 45 minutes, we decide to meet for dinner the following Monday. He asks me to select a place and send him the details. Of course, I shall comply!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


On what has to be the muggiest June day, I have a date with Sardar, a Sikh banker. Often times I think the simplest way to explain the difference between Sikhism and Hinduism to non-desis is by comparing them to Protestantism and Catholicism. Related religions that are similar in history but different in practice.

As my heels clip clop down the sidewalk, the last bit of curl escapes and my hair releases back to straight. S’nice. My brown silk dress with pink flowers is damp (ew!) and clings to my skin. When it comes to muggy, Minnesota with its 10,000 lakes and rivers was excellent training for living on an island. So I’m accustomed to bad hair days. I just wish they didn’t happen on date nights!

Sardar arrives late due to a malfunctioning Uptown 1 train, wearing a wool suit, shirt and tie. Beads of sweat crown his head. We order wine, he red and I white, which I rarely drink. But it is SOOOOO hot I cannot imagine having a room temperature beverage. Oh, and we’re seated next to the kitchen. We’re officially dining outside Hell’s portal.

We talk about India. He is from Bombay (now Mumbai) where I always longed to visit. I wanted to see the Bollywood bungalows by day and swanky nightclubs by night. But my trips to India involved three weeks of doing the Delhi rellie run. This is where a driver shuttles me back and forth between family members. Some of whom I quite like and others I meet out of obligation.

Sardar shares that he cut his hair (to the dismay of his parents) in graduate school to fit in. For Sikhs, this is a big deal. Sikhs embrace the 5Ks – one of which is “kesh” or uncut hair, which is deemed as God’s natural gift, and a reminder to not work against nature. In India, turbaned men are common place, in America, not so much. And while tragic, I understand why he assimilated. My father’s family is Sikh and my mother’s Hindu. When my brother was born my parents had to make a decision about growing his hair. Since we lived in Minnesota, they decided my brother should be a clean-cut Sikh rather than teased in school and life.

At the end of dinner, Sardar pays and walks me to the subway. While our date was pleasant, neither of us felt that za za zoom. But it was refreshing to meet a normal desi man. It gives me hope that the next date will be better yet.

Sikhism's 5 Ks
Sikhism - BBC Article on 5 Ks
Sikhism - Intro to

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


When the Bouncer steps outside I turn to Meera and say, “He sees a million girls a night. Why exactly would he want to kiss me?” “This is Manhattan. You can have any man, not necessarily for marriage, most likely for a one stand. For sure a kiss,” Meera declares like she is running for President, and then shoves me out of my seat.

I nod and follow him. He is two doors down, smoking a cigarette. I walk by cool, calm and collected. “Where are you going?” he asks. “Getting some air,” I reply. “Come and talk to me.” Well, okay.

We exchange names. He tells me about his child and how he bounces at night and goes to college during the day. Because he is HOT I have long since stopped listening to him. When he kisses me I do not resist. His lips are fabulous --- soft, thick, warm. We go back into the bar. He sits down at the door and I return to Meera’s side. “Did you kiss him?” she asks. “Yes,” I reply.

Eventually the Bouncer joins us to play Connect 4. I lose three consecutive games. It doesn’t help that I am taking strategic checker placement advice from Meera. We’re so drunk; sobriety won’t find us until next week. The bar closes and the staff begins a game of Twister. For some reason, despite drinking for seven hours and wearing a skirt, I decide to play. Doesn’t this sound like a good way to break my arm? Since the next spin requires me to contort like a Cirque De Soleil acrobat, which I am not, I fall down. Now it is well after 2:00 am and Meera and I are hungry. The Bouncer orders cheese slices for us and a hot dog for him. (I pay for the snacks). After consuming 600 calories Meera wants to leave. I however am very busy --- making out with the Bouncer. Somehow she drags me back to her apartment, he follows and she finally shoos him away.

Once in the apartment I pass out on the couch. Five hours later the sun wakes me. Whoa! I finally understand what “even my hair hurts” means. With my head pounding like a drummer boy with ADHD, I drag myself into the kitchen. I drink several glass of water then rummage around the bathroom for 1000 mgs of aspirin, hoping to kill whatever took up residence in my head. Can you believe Meera and I were sorority girls?

As the night comes back to me I remember the Bouncer. Oh my. I doubt my inner prude would have let me go home with him. In any event, I am thankful Meera was there. I lie back on the couch and declare, “Enough is enough.” Oof, the sound of my own voice hurts. So as soon as this drunken haze wears off I will get serious about finding a suitable boyfriend.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Meera calls Tuesday afternoon hoping I am free that night. Who exactly does she think I have plans with? Recap: four local friends and a barely breathing love life. “Oh and bring the book ‘How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You’. We’re practicing dating techniques,” Meera instructs.

We meet at an Americana restaurant and order a bottle of wine. Meera directs me to gaze at her and then advises on body language adjustments. Other than our 26-year old waiter (we asked his age) who opens a second bottle of wine, no one finds our behavior odd.

“What do you do when you’re nervous?” Meera asks. I reply, “I fill the dead air with chatter, hoping a witty comment will spark his interest.” Meera shakes her head at me, “Or kill it.”

After dinner, Meera decides the night is still drunk, wait, she means young, and we duck into a bar. I think another round sounds like a good idea and order. Meera swivels around on the barstool. “There are Indian guys over there. You should talk to them,” Meera says, pointing across the bar. I glance over. When she said guys, what she really meant was boys. Their average age cannot be much more than 24 and they’re playing checkers (this bar is known for board games). “Absolutely not,” I say. “I’m too drunk to change their Pampers and find pacifiers.” “No, no! You’re going to talk to them and employ all the tactics of the book,” Meera slurs and drags us over to their table. She introduces us and their names instantly blur together --- Roop-Jesh-Veer. How is Meera formulating sentences? She has no body fat and her blood alcohol ratio has to be lethal.

One of the guys inquires about Meera’s vocation. “I come from money, so I don’t work,” she says. “I attend events and do philanthropy work while my husband travels. We’re buying an apartment Uptown. Daddy is teaching me about tough love so he won’t just get us a place on Park Avenue…” OMG, evidently Meera’s alternate persona is the desi Paris Hilton. The guys are salivating, begging Meera for more details. Little do they know she is an earthy, vegetarian who teaches yoga and lives a holistic life. After they finish drooling over Meera, they talk to me. “I’m in marketing,” I reply, crushing them with the truth. They return their squirrel like attention to Meera Warbucks, who glares at me. I TOLD her I didn’t want to talk to them; I doubt they know who WHAM! was!

My gaze settles on the well-built 6’-4”, beautiful bouncer. Meera leans over and says, “You should kiss the Bouncer.” Hhhmm, now this is the first thing Meera has said all night that genuinely interests me.

To be continued …

Monday, March 8, 2010


A NOTE FROM 101 BAD DESI DATES: Dear Readers, as previously mentioned, I moved to New York over three years ago. And this year, in January 2010, I began blogging about my adventures (I joke and refer to them as misadventures). While the posts are written in present tense, they are about past events. Because I don’t want to confuse you lovely readers (and I know some of you desire timeline clarification) I will let you know when we time travel, which is happening now. The timeframe of this Post 52 is Memorial Day Weekend 2007 and we’re moving forward (i.e. Post 53 will be June 2007, etc.). If you have any questions please let me know. Again, thank you for your support!


For the past six months I have been competing in Manhattan Olympics. I’ve earned gold in two events: squeezing onto crowded subways while toting carrier bags and running for transport (it’s amazing how fast I move in heels when I don’t want to wait 10 minutes for the next bus). Like a champion, I dine and discover my way across the City, no longer hyperventilating at the average $1.4 million cost of an apartment.

For those of you who have taken the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, I’m an ESFJ (extrovert-sensing-feeling-judging). With an off the charts “E”. I am not someone who thrives well when alone. But by moving to New York (where I have four friends, no family and work from home) I willingly isolated myself from an amazing support system. And I didn’t appreciate how the loneliness was challenging my sense of belonging and self-worth until Memorial Day Weekend.

From Friday morning to Tuesday evening, I don’t leave my apartment nor do I interact with another person. I really can’t offer a reason for why I didn’t even venture out to Starbucks. Sure, I could blame a well stocked fridge, my incredibly comfortable couch and a really good book. But I have never been good at reaching out or asking for help. I excel at loving others, but not myself. So when I finally realize my soul is starving for companionship, there isn’t anyone around to feed me. And my reality begins to depress me.

Friday, March 5, 2010


My cousin and her husband, who looks like the desi Horatio Sanz, have invited Mom and me to lunch. The husband retrieves us from the Metro North station and is dutiful enough to touch Mom’s feet. A sign of respect young in-laws and young men show their elders. In return, Mom doles blessings upon him.

“You should spend the weekend with us,” the husband says after we are settled in the car. The maternal side of my family is overly involved in one another’s lives (we’re damn near on speed dial). So Mom and I know already know the husband (who is rumored to be a total phony) already complained about our visit. As if we want to spend $40 on tickets to watch their hot mess of a marriage melt down in front of our eyes. Since I am privy to the drama behind the drama I say, “Sorry, we can’t. We’re meeting friends for dinner.” “Do you need a ride back?” the husband asks.

Last year my uncle, his father-in-law, came from India and stayed for two months because the couple was fighting. The husband charged my uncle for room and board. Who does this? So I am already worried the husband will inventory what we eat and drink bill my uncle. Then again I don’t know. It was nice of him to offer the ride and I don’t know his side of the story. Just in case this marriage is an out of control bus on crystal meth, I am not chancing it and say. “Thank you, but we already bought the return tickets.”

We get to their townhouse and I am, again, surprised by the sparseness. The furniture is from the husband’s bachelor days. The walls are bare. There is no console stuffed with religious statues, photos, books, vases, trinkets or treasures. They out-earn me, yet I have silk throw pillows and my bookshelves burst from the overflow of knowledge and capitalism.

The husband disappears into the basement and my cousin instructs the cleaning woman who doubles as the cook to prepare lunch. “How was he in the car?” my cousin asks. “Fine,” I reply. “How are things?” Mom asks. My cousin shrugs, “He won’t replace the couches. He says my parents were supposed to give us new furniture and a new car upon marriage.” They have been married for three years. Long after the Indian government outlawed after-marriage dowry payments. Evidently his extortionist parents with village mentality didn’t get the memo.

When lunch is ready the four of us sit down. My cousin ladles food onto Mom’s plate. Overstuffing you is how Indians show affection. Mom covers her plate with her hands and says, “No more, please.” Funny, that never works for me.

Out of the corner of my eye I watch the husband. I know he makes snide comments about my age and single status and thinks I’m no catch. But newsflash either is he. And I’d rather be single than married and miserable.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


In addition to visiting the Ganesh Temple in Flushing and eating at an unimpressive Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights, Mom wants to shop at the world’s largest Macy’s. I have not been there since my Meet Me At Macy’s Date (Post 43). But last night we went to a Kiran Desai book reading and I told Mom someday I want to be published and accomplished like Kiran. Mom said, “If you put your mind to something it will happen.” So I will endure the nightmare of Herald Square for her.

In three hours we load up on purses, bathrobes, pajamas and shoes. We’re on the final stretch, somewhere between men’s casual clothes and the door, when I experience unexplainable terror. One minute I’m talking to Mom and the next, she’s poof, gone! Repeatedly I call out for her and presume this is what parents feel when they momentarily lose their child, giving me insight into what I did to Mom. One day she needed thread and we went to Woolworth’s. I was about five, got bored and took a nap under a rack of tee-shirts. Eventually Mom found me but I received a major shouting. Now I realize it was out of fear not anger.

Thank goodness she appears after a few seconds. Though I feel relief, I do what she did, and yell. “What are you doing? You don’t carry a cell phone and get confused with directions. You need to follow me or you’ll get lost. Then how will you get back to the apartment?” My “NYC IS NOT SAFE” lecture loses some of its effect because we’re standing next to a display of Ralph Lauren sweatshirts and three male employees in black suits, who are spritzing cologne, stop and stare at us.

Mom apologizes over and over. I know I must seem like a terrible person for yelling at her. But she only drives within a three-mile radius of our house and never on the freeways. Minneapolis is a kind city where people stop and help change tires. Based on the bums I see in every neighborhood, New York has broken many a man and woman.

Then I threaten to get one of those leashes I see parents affixing to their kids in malls. This is when Mom yells at me in Hindi, realigning our power structure. In silence we walk back to the subway and board the A train. After we’re seated I offer a peace offering, “If you get lost again, I’m getting a kiddie leash.” She tries not to laugh and sternly says, “It won’t happen again.”

We’ll see. I have been her daughter long enough to expect the unexpected.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Mom is cooking my favorite dishes, saag paneer (spinach and homemade cheese), tandoori chicken, aloo ki roti (potato stuffed flat bread) and chutneys (tamarind and mint). It is rather amusing that this is MY kitchen, yet she has taken control and turned me into her sous chef.

As she cooks I take fastidious notes in my recipe book and marvel that despite not measuring, Mom’s food tastes precisely consistent. She has standardized her skill into an art form. I certainly can’t say that about my cooking and I’m a pretty decent protégé.

“You know when I came from India, Dad told me to bring spices and lentils because there were no Indian groceries stores in Minneapolis,” Mom says. “So between your silk saris you packed paprika and masoor dal?” I ask. “Yes,” Mom replies. “What happened when you ran out?” I ask. “Oh, then several of us pooled our money, made a list and mailed our order to New York City. No other City had Indian grocery stores.” It is amazing how much things have changed.

Her story reminds me of a filmstrip we watched in fourth grade about Nagaland, a remote place in India inhabited by a primitive tribe who carried spears and wore animal skins. When the film finished, horrified, I raised my hand to reassure everyone that I was Indian and had been New Delhi several times and not to worry this depiction of India was inaccurate. Mrs. Knutson explained that I couldn’t possibly know everything about India. Very popular and blonde Jenny Nelson frowned at me, and Tommy Larson said, “Your dad has a bone through his nose? Gross.”

I remember feeling like someone had stolen my dignity. That night I went home and while Mom cooked dinner I asked about the Nagas. Mom dusted red and yellow spices over green beans and white potatoes and explained Mrs. Knutson was wrong, but I didn’t need to correct her. As my teacher she had a superior position in my life. Then I asked Mom to stop wearing saris to the mall. She kept cooking and said she wouldn’t let America embarrass us because we came from India. But I persisted and clarified technically I was American; being born in Minnesota guaranteed me that right. “No you’re Indian,” she finally said.

Sometimes I forget that I was not the only one being desi in a homogenous state. And I wonder how many times I hurt Mom’s feelings just like Mrs. Knutson, Jenny and Tommy did mine.

Saag Paneer

Chicken Tandoori

Mint Chutney

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Mom and I are at the subway station. I swipe the Metro Card, thinking Mom will go through the turnstile. Instead she stands there, wearing my puffy H&M jacket that makes me look like a deformed Spice Girl but she looks like she’s drowning in a pink sleeping bag.

“Uhm, Mom, when the green GO light comes on and dings, you go,” I explain and point at the turnstile. “Okay,” she says. I re-swipe and she still stands there. “What are you doing?” I ask. Didn’t I just explain this to her? “Oh,” she replies. From yesterday’s post we established that she is barely large enough for theme park rides, so she is not too fat to fit through the turnstile. Another reason why Mom will never appreciate the ride I took down Cabbage Diet Drive, Atkins Avenue and Weight Watchers Way. “Mom, listen for the ding,” I suggest and swipe. Again Mom does not move.

My parents have the innate ability to stretch dollars into directions I never knew money could bend. After the Partition of India and Pakistan my parents survived grain rations, water shortages, and dinnerless nights. They regularly remind my brother and me that they barely had two shirts. So you can forget about the comfort of air conditioning for those sweltering monsoon months. On more than one occasion I have been told about my maternal grandmother’s daily trek to the Old Delhi Railway Station to collect coal from passing trains so she could cook food, if she had enough, to feed her four kids. I often reflect that the American government should hire my parents; we’d be out of debt in no time. So the fact that I have wasted $8 dollars swiping in vain is so irritating I could spit.

“Did you NOT hear the ding?” I demand. A sharpness forms around the edges of my patience. “Do you know how much money I am wasting? We could have had two lattes from Starbucks while you just stood there.” The wounded look in Mom’s eyes forces me look away. Damn me! Mom’s hearing is tolerable under normal circumstances, but becomes challenged in the loud subway station.

“I have an idea,” I suggest. I step behind Mom, swipe the card, YET again, and shove her, yes, shove her through the turnstile. A passing woman glares at me. I shrug. I know. I must look like a bully manhandling a teeny Indian woman in an over-sized puffer. We have yet to locate a coat that fits her and we frequent the Macy’s kids’ section all the time. But I feel Mom is too old to wear a purple Barney jacket.

We step onto the double-long escalator and begin the 200-foot descent to the subway platform. Mom turns to me and says, “Let’s do that every time. I stand and you push me.”

Monday, March 1, 2010


As I get ready for Mom’s visit, I’m remembering our mother-daughter Indo-American moments (of which there are many). And when I learn how to add sound to this blog (because I have perfected imitating Mom’s strong desi accent) I’ll “reenact” the exchange below.

A few years ago, whenever Dad was traveling for business Mom and I had a telly and Taco Bell routine. After consuming chicken tacos and nachos we’d watch West Wing and Law and Order. This particular Wednesday was no different. Except just before our shows started I began jonesing for chocolate so desperately I would have turned down Jimmy Choos for a Milky Way…I know, right!

“Mom, any chance you have chocolate?” I asked. My parents were not fond of chocolates and didn’t always keep it in the house. They preferred fruit . Or sickeningly sweet saffroned Indian desserts like jalebis and srikhand. Or besan ladoos which have the texture of sand.

Mom replied, “I have Tic Tac.” “That’s nice. But I want chocolate,” I said. “I have Tic Tac,” she repeated. My insatiable need for fermented cocoa beans was dire. I was considering pulling on winter gear and driving to the gas station and she was going on about ‘Tic Tac’? Didn’t she know the difference between chocolate and a 1-½ calorie breath mint? Annoyed, I went upstairs to the kitchen for a Diet Coke.

I yanked open the fridge and rummaged around. In the vegetable drawer (of all places?!) I found a bag of mini Kit Kats! I tore open several packets, stuffed sticks of chocolate wafers into my mouth and experienced what can only be described as, joy.

Mom, unlike me, has enviable metabolism. When Mom married Dad she weighed 84 pounds. Forty years of marriage to an overweight man and two kids later she heiffed out at 92 pounds. Also unlike me, she has excellent food control. Daily Mom eats three proper meals, has two tea breaks and never exercises. Because I inherited the fat gene from Dad and regularly complained about my weight, I couldn’t confess to eating ALL this chocolate but grabbed one more Kit Kat.

Downstairs on the couch I made a HUUUUUUUUUUGE production of unwrapping my candy. Mom eyed me suspiciously. “What?” I asked, worried her mom-dar detected this was my third one. “I told you. I have Tic Tac,” she said. I raised my eyebrows, “Seriously? Mother, this is a Kit Kat not a Tic Tac.” I then loudly repeated, “KIT KAT.” Thinking volume would press my point home. She ROLLED her eyes and said, “Tic Tac, Kit Kat, whatever. I told you I have chocolate.”

While I might be a lot of things, I was not stupid enough to say, “Ah, no, dyslexic, that is NOT what you said.” Besides, what did it matter at this point? I had my chocolate, Martin Sheen aka Jed Bartlet’s face is two feet wide by three feet long on this GIGANTIC television and life couldn’t be better.