Friday, April 30, 2010


Despite what you see on television, real New Yorkers do normal things, like laundry which I am doing when the Crazy Lady interrupts me. Recap: Crazy Lady has six pets and tried to sue Albany. I don’t know her name, but I am almost certain she is nuts.

“I am being evicted!” she screams. “I have lived here for 30 years and the whole time he has tried to kick me out!” I don’t say anything and she rants until my clothes are in the dryers. In a moment of empathy I say, “You have rights as a tenant.” I would think she knows this because she has lived in this building since I was 4 years old. “I have a friend who's a judge who says landlords can do what they want.”

“You must be just be rich,” she says. Really? They why aren’t I living on the Upper East Side or in Chelsea? So I correct her and tell her I’m getting by like anyone else. This sends her into attack mode (not that she ever came out of it) and snarls, “you’re paying more rent than me.” Well, yeah, I’m not rent stabilized like her!

“Do you know why I got the dogs?” she demands. Ugh, I don’t care. She then tells me she lived next door to crack dealers who beat her up. She then says, “You know the landlord harassed a woman for having a dog when her lease said she couldn’t have one.” Well, no kidding, the other lady was violating the lease…what is the landlord supposed to do? He's already letting her run a zoo on the 6th floor. “Well I won't let him do this to me. This is my home. I am going to sue him and Albany. You be careful, he’ll throw you out too!”

Wow. For a woman with no money she sure does wage many lawsuits. And she’s screaming like someone pulled her hair. I gather all my laundry and race out of the laundry room. On some level, the Crazy Lady does scare me. What if she is right about the landlord and he boots me out. I have no place to go. I have four friends and cannot afford to find a new home.

Kerplop, I drop my stuff in the living room and speed dial Jack. Without taking a breath, I retell the entire Crazy Lady to Jack, who finally cuts me off and says, “If a person is exposed to too much cat urine and feces they can go insane.”

That must be it! She has gone insane.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I am, pretty much, a straight shooter. When I give my word I bind myself to it. If I offer to plan your baby shower, it is going to be best damn blue or pink party you attend. If your life falls apart I will bring the super glue and help piece it back together. If we’re having dinner at 7:00 pm I will be there at 6:58.

Now that Reindeer is en route to pick me up for a date, I am reliving last night and feeling disappointed for giving Super Smarty my number. It’s not like I can blame the faithful girl stand-by ‘I was drunk’, because I was STONE COLD sober. Ugh.

I pull my 7 For All Mankind jeans out of the closet (these jeans were more expensive than my Ann Taylor dress pants and I wear those to work!) and toss on a black and white printed I.N.C. shirt. Oooo, my never worn green Franco and Sarto heels would be perf!

When Reindeer rings, I lock the apartment and hop into the car. He slides off his sunglasses looks at my outfit and says, “I thought I said casual.” I furrow my brows. “Jeans are my idea of casual.” He smirks and eases the car away from the curb then heads south on Broadway. “Where are we going?” I ask. “You’ll see,” Reindeer says. “Did you do anything fun last night?” I ask. “Saw a movie,” Reindeer says. I nod and say, “With your other girlfriend?” What the? Who said that? Shooot a pickle! Either I really have some desi Hindu guilt for TALKING to Super Smarty or I’m being passive/aggressive about his second profile that I am clearly STILL harboring negative feelings about. He glances at me and shakes his head. “I’m not seeing anyone else.” Oh.

He finds a metered space and says, “Can you walk in those shoes?” I flash a bored look, “Yes!” Reindeer nods but his body language demonstrates doubt. I’ll show him! Of course I wish I knew where we were going, that would make it easier to “show him”. As luck would have it (finally) we enter a deli. “So this Zabar’s,” Reindeer says. I nod. He laughs. “What?” I demand. “This is a New York institution. I’m showing you the sights.” Aw, that’s sweet the Big City Desi Slicker is showing the little bumpkin from Minnesota around town.

We have lunch and then wander through the grocery store where a substantial amount of time is spent in the coffee/tea aisle and then the bakery where Reindeer selects a chocolate babka. We hop back into the car and go back to my neighborhood. “So I have a problem,” Reindeer says. “What's that I ask?” I am mildly impressed that my feet don’t hurt. “I am going golfing now.” “Uh-huh,” I reply, these are cute shoes. “Well my babka will melt in the heat,” Reindeer states. He’s right, it might. “So will you keep my babka? Just pop it in the freezer.”

I don’t get this man at all. Still no kiss, but now I am storing his babka … indefinitely?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Three days after the bridge collapses, Meera and I are sitting at the bar of Ono in the Meatpacking District. Meera orders wine and excuses herself for the ladies room. I pull her bar stool in closer (empty bar stools on a Saturday night in Manhattan are a HOT commodity). Because New York doesn’t really support sobriety and teetotalers, I order club soda with lime. It seems to confuse people into thinking I am still on the sauce.

Since I stopped drinking, I experience everything so much more vividly, including my love/hate relationship with the Meatpacking District. The trendy restaurant fare is good, but pricey. And the influx of B&T (bridge and tunnel) people can be maddening. But maybe they are the smart ones who enjoy the city and go home. While we Manhattanites stay and pay incredibly high rates of tax.

“Are you here for the NYU event?” a man asks. “No,” I reply. I can’t explain how, I just KNOW he is Pakistani. “Did you?” I ask. “Yeah, we’re having an event upstairs. I thought you were the organizer.” This is the strangest thing I have heard in some time. If I was the organizer why am I sitting with my back to the door, at the bar, drinking, albeit club soda?

Meera comes back from the loo and sits down, which allows me to return my attention to her. A few minutes pass and the Pakistani guy talks to me again. Meera shrugs and checks her phone. Just as I begin to politely end conversation the Pakistani guy’s South Indian friend appears. “Meet my friend! He is super smart guy, best in our class, great job, total catch,” Pakistani guy says. Super Smarty seems embarrassed but we exchange polite hellos. He is not bad looking, average height, a little stocky. “So are you seeing anyone?” Pakistani guy asks me. Before my brain can formulate a sentence, Meera snaps her phone shut and says, “No, she is not.” I glance at Meera wondering if she has forgotten Reindeer. Because I have not. “Super Smarty is single too,” Pakistani guy says and turns his attention to someone else. Meera returns to her phone. Thus forcing Super Smarty and I to chat.

I learn that Super Smarty was born in India, lives in Jersey, and works in the City. His has one sister she is married and lives in the Gulf (when desis say “the Gulf” we mean Persian, not Mexican). He does most of the talking, and only stops when Pakistani guys interrupts so say “Super Smarty is brilliant.” “He is going to be rich.” “He is going to be a great husband.” Wow, Pakistani guy has the subtly of an Indian Auntie.

When the NYU event begins Pakistani guy and Super Smarty get up to leave. Super Smarty pauses and says, “Can I have your phone number?” Aiy, what is the harm? So I give it to him. Aiy!

Monday, April 26, 2010


I survey my apartment. Yeehaw! It is tidier than a 5-star hotel! With cleanly pleasure pulsing through me I decide to treat myself to ice cream. Since I am a big fan of a bargain (and really, I think most desis are), I decide to visit my local McDonald’s for a 99 cent cone. But I quick call my parents to say hello first.

I get my ice cream, eat it on the way home and sit down on the couch. Literally, my booty makes contact with the cushions and the phone rings. It’s my parents and I am instantly nervous: 1) I just talked to them and 2) they never call me. And growing up, when the phone rang late at night, my parents never had to tell us, my brother and I knew, an elder, distant relative had died.

“Hello?” I demand. “Don’t panic,” is the first thing my always calm and collected mother says. Then perhaps she should not begin a conversation with, “don’t panic.” Because I immediately, P-A-N-I-C. “Don’t worry, Daddy is home and I talked to your brother, they are home, too.” “What is going on!” I demand. “The 35W Bridge just fell into the Mississippi River.”

For the love of Ganesh, this is the most surreal thing I have ever heard my mother day. And the words reverberate in my head. “Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.” It’s just the bridge that connects our house to our office that we drive across twice day, every day just FELL into the RIVER. In what world do perfectly good bridges just fall down?

My mother is still talking and I flip on CNN. There are bits and bubs of the bridge all over the place. OMG. I mean my mother would never make this up. But, holy shit, the 35W Bridge is in the water. “Mom, I have to go,” I say and immediately call Jack. “Hello?” he says. “The 35W Bridge fell into the Mississippi,” I say robotically. “What?” Jack shouts. “Turn on CNN!” I order and he does because it is so sensational. “Holy shit. The bridge is in the water…” he says. “I can’t talk right now,” I say and begin to hang-up. “What happened? You were just there!” he demands. “Well it’s not snowing, so it’s road construction season and they were repairing the bridge.” Now there are cars and concrete in the water?

For the next five hours I sit in front of the telly watching CNN. I have not been this disturbed since 9/11 when one of my co-workers came into the office and said, “I think a plane just hit the World Trade Towers.” Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


As if waiting and hoping on Reindeer is not stressful enough, I am, again, on the phone with my cousin who is requesting desi dating details and then doling advice like a Pez dispenser on speed. “You have to play the game” “These are the rules” “Trust me I know what men want” “I found three men for you to date.” Why, oh why, did I give up drinking? These conversations would be MUCH easier to bear if my blood alcohol was 0.04.

Half an hour later I receive a text from Reindeer. “Just landed in Ohio. Small plane and a flight attendant named Delilah. Will call when I have the rental car.” Hhhmm. Perhaps I did not do damage with my “are we dating” demand.

When the phone rings I pick up immediately. “So I am finally in the Midwest,” Reindeer says. “Uhm, Ohio is more like the industrial Midwest,” I correct. He laughs in that laugh I love. “You take being from the Midwest very seriously if you are excluding Ohio.” “I am being geographically correct.” Desi girl confession: While really, I do love everything about Karen Walker, at the core I am a hall monitor disguised as a party girl. “We actually landed in Kentucky,” Reindeer says. “So I decided to try Kentucky Fried Chicken for the first time.”

Whaaaaat? How has he lived in America for 20 years and never dined with the Colonel? “Have you eaten at Chipotle?” I ask. “Nope,” he replies. “Really? I will take you,” I say. “Sounds good,” he says. “It can’t be next weekend. I have girlfriends coming from Minnesota. We’re going to Ono, want to join us?” I ask. “Oh-no!” he exclaims. Geez! The way he responds so quickly and emphatically you’d think I offered to set him on fire, not invite him to dinner.

This is SO clearly NOT a good sign.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


After finishing our made-fresh-by-Reindeer-juices we get into the car and leave for Stone Hill Farms. As we head towards the Tappan Zee Bridge, Reindeer explains that it is referred to as the “Tapp”. Since I am an avid viewer of the morning news, including the Road and Rail Report while I wait for the Weather on the 1s, I already know this. But I decide to let him be the man, and act like what he shares is fascinating. Where, oh where, is my Emmy for this performance?

Once off the freeway the drive becomes scenically pastoral and quaint with cows and rolling hills. The pristine view and gentle quiet, the endless grass and sky could be mistaken for central Wisconsin, not 40 minutes away from the largest American city.

We get out of the car and Reindeer directs me to the restaurant, and says, “There is so much to see and do here.” The restaurant is PACKED and sporting a two-hour wait. Just like that I am reminded that we are INDEED in New York! There is a little canteen across the way and we go there for sandwiches. He selects tea, making me seem more Indian, while I opt for Diet Coke, more carbonated, more American. We sit down to eat and suddenly his two profiles pop into my head. 

I set my sandwich aside and say, “Reindeer?” “Yes?” he replies, a little flirty, a little serious tone. “Would you say we are dating?” I ask. He raises a brow at me and says nothing. Shoot, why didn’t I learn how to be subtle? “I ask because, I enjoy seeing you, but we’ve never kissed…” I begin. He continues to sit motionless and then says, “I’m not seeing anyone else, so sure we’re dating.” And what about the kissing? I do like him, but what is going on here? I worry about falling too hard and too fast. And if does no like me back, I have to implement some self-preservation. I wish I just had the ovaries to ask about what really troubles me - the second profile. 

Conversation during the rest of lunch and the car ride is strained. He drops me off at Abby and Patrick’s house for Madeline’s first birthday and ends the date with a hug, no kiss. Even thought I just inquired about this lack of touch. And no, I am not looking for him to be an ODDB (Posts 17 and 16)  but I would like some reassurance that he finds me attractive.

When I arrive at the party, Meera, Rohit and Abby inquire about my date. Meera groans, “His reply is strange! Kick him to the curb,” she says with full-on girl attitude. “Do you think he is a player?” I ask. Rohit and Abby roll their eyes and simultaneously with forcefulness, say, “No!”

Then why do I feel like I am being played?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


On the day of my Westchester date with Reindeer I get up extra early to wash and style my hair. I decide to wear a brown skirt, hot pink silk shell, light pink sweater and sandals.

Before dashing out the door I reach into the fridge for Reindeer’s samosas. I’m about to find out if the way to a man’s heart is REALLY through his stomach because I pretty much could get Mathew McConaughey to almost fall in love with me over these deep fried triangular bites of delish!

When the train pulls into the Westchester station I spot Reindeer, again leaning against his car, sporting his shades in the manner of a Bollywood legend. It is times like this I feel certain a bhangra song is going to slowly begin with the lilt of a flute, the gentle tap-tap-tap of the tabla. Until it crescendos into an ensemble of 50 color-coordinated extras dancing while Reindeer and I lip-sync to India’s number one hit song. Clearly I have seen WAY too many Bollywood movies. Sidebar: in my dreams I am an AMAZING dancer. In real-life I have some questionable coordination issues.

Reindeer greets me with a hug. Hhmmm. This is date four, shouldn’t we move onto a peck on the cheek or lips? He gives me the 50-cent tour of his town en route to his apartment.

His building is a design from the 1970s when flat roofs were the rage. Inside his apartment I am incredibly stunned. His décor rivals anything I have ever seen, including the cover of Interior Design magazine. Everything has a place, in this contemporary space filled with deep rich brown leather chairs (bad Hindu)and a couch accented with red pillows and a throw.

The unfortunate living room detail is the wall clad in mirrors. Another 1970s tactic to make the room seem bigger, when it really leaves you feeling a little dirty like a porn star once lived here. The bathroom has a H-U-G-E Jacuzzi tub but is pink with a large vase of curly willows. Since Reindeer rents, I’d like to believe he is not a super fan of pink. Otherwise I am becoming the desi Grace, with her very own Will (Reindeer) and Jack (the Banker).

His bedroom is spacious but sparse, with a bed and a dresser. “Would you like orange or grapefruit juice?” Reindeer asks and directs me to the kitchen where some Juiceman Juicer and a collection of cut citrus fills the counter. “Grapefruit” I reply and watch him pull an apron out of a drawer. This entire production is surreal --- pimped out juicer, farmer’s market fruit and an aproned desi man.

It takes a few minutes for him to concoct the frothy teetotalling beverages and we adjourn to the living room for a leisurely chat. Where he oddly, sits clear across the living room from me.

To be cont.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Do I really I need to write more on this topic? Okay, since you insist.

I may have mentioned that desis (American, Indian or immigrants) -- are tardy. Not fashionably late, but insanely NOT punctual. They operate on IST (Indian Standard Time). It is SOOO bad that I am considering a moratorium on desi friends. And you know these desis are getting to work on-time, so you know damn well they can IN FACT tell time or own  a digital clock.

Oddly enough, I have noticed people in Manhattan are obscenely tardy, too. And not 7 minutes late because the A train had a signal malfunction. Or the M4 bus had a longer than expected driver change in Harlem. Or, that the N track caught on fire and train traffic was re-routed along 6th Avenue. No no no, I mean they show up at 8:42 for 8:00 pm dinner reservations. Who cares that I passed out from hunger!

Maybe they are self-absorbed. Maybe they cannot tell the little hand from the big hand. But, because it appears to be against the law in New York NOT to have a cell phone (that generally comes with a clock), I cannot determine one good reason to regularly show up late. I mean other than, people really don’t value me or my time.

To show up once late, it happens. I got stuck on an A train that took 54 minutes to get to Time Square (normally a 28 minute ride). Show up late a third time, well I better learn to stick up for myself and decline your next dinner invite.

Now, I wish I had ovaries of titanium when it came to men, especially the ones who mistreat me or post two profiles online …

Monday, April 19, 2010


Back in my Manhattan apartment, I turn on the air conditioning and let coolness settle against my skin. To keep me company I switch on the telly. My bags are the only untidy element in the apartment so immediately I begin unpacking. I super clean before I leave for trips. You can still see the vacuum cleaner lines on the carpet. It isn't simply that I like returning to a spotless apartment. It's because I worry, if I died, I would not want whoever packed up my stuff to think negatively of my hygiene. Morbid, I know. I have issues, I know.

Once I finish that task, I sit down at the computer and write an email to Reindeer. It is never good when I like a man this much. My inner control freak really freaks out when I lose all control of my emotions.
Dear Reindeer … There is a 942 am train leaving Fordham that arrives White Plains at 1012 am. How does that sound?

Reindeer responds:
sounds perfect! see you then. (Please note: the man has used an exclamation point). also...don't eat a huge breakfast of aloo-parathas and gobi before coming over...maybe i can interest you in some 'brunch' while you are home or at stone hill farms.....intriguing, right?

 Hhmmm. Gotta love a man who plans dates. (Sidebar: are your wondering what aloo parathas are? They are desi flatbread stuffed with potatoes and spices. See image to the right).

Also, because I don’t like being tardy, I’m initiating a TEST RUN. Think I am joking? Not so much. Tomorrow I am going to Westchester to meet my college chum Abby. We’re going to Target and Shop and Stop for groceries. I will be clocking how long it takes to get from 181st Street to Fordham Road, and then scooting over to Metro North.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


My two week visit in Minnesota ends tomorrow. While I enjoyed seeing my family and friends, I am E-X-C-I-T-E-D to go back. I must still be in a transitional phase, one foot in each apple, Minne and Biggie, because neither place really feels like home.

I’m finishing up my last work assignment and logging into my email. I think I am in trouble with this Reindeer sitch, because I cannot wait to see him again. Full disclosure: I totally mentioned my upcoming Westchester trip to see if he’d notice I was coming his way and invite me on a date.

I open my inbox and find this Reindeer email:
hello ...i found this link on the mta website which says the Fordham Metro North station is 5 blocks from the D'll need to refer to the Local trains from Fordham to White Plains.

Goodie. He does want to see me and so I write:
Mister Reindeer ... you are too sweet to find me that link just for me. I can handle 5 blocks. Now, when you say transfer to the local train ---- do you mean the Metro North train I get on at Fordham Road bound for Westchester will be a local train versus an express?

Reindeer writes back almost immediately:
dear ms. i-am-too-sexy-too-pay-attention-to-your-train-details... I said 'refer' not 'transfer'...refer as in 'refer to the timings of the local trains' if you want to plan when you get to Fordham)... Yes, the Metro North train from Fordham to White Plains will be a local. .am i getting any samosas?? the ones you hand-rolled..

I swoon at his reference to me being SEXY and write:
Reindeer … sure you can have some samosas. i'll check out train timings later. Do you want a Twins tee-shirt?

Reindeer writes:
you are too kind - unfortunately, i am not a big sports-logo-tee-shirt-kind-of-guy....something you probably didn't know about me...the samosas will be just fine..

Okay, I was joking about the Twins tee-shirt. I am as Sporty desi Spice girl as my blind aunt with dementia. When someone throws a Frisbee at me, I duck.

Clearly he doesn’t get my humor, yet. That can change, right?

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Three days have elapsed since I left a voicemail for Reindeer. I am eating my fourth samosa (from Post 24),  devilish Indian pastries stuffed with potatoes, peas and spices then deep-fried into a divine appetizer. I think Mom adds cocaine to them. They are so addicting I honestly believe I could seduce Napolean-esque dictators and take over their small nations.

The lack of Reindeer response is making me glum, depressed and obsessed with wonder. Between bites of samosas I wonder if he is dating someone else. Part of my neurosis is that I rarely meet men I like emotionally, intellectually and physically. I like educated, smart men who out-weigh me, out-height me and make me laugh. Is that asking for too much? I don’t think so.

I settle in fron of the TV when my phone rings. I am a sad and pathetic woman who becomes a giddy, ECSTATIC school girl. “Is it too late to call you in the State of Lakes?” he asks. Minnesota (according to the license plates) is the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I am rather impressed that he knows that. Until I came along, he had not met anyone from Minnesota. Nor has he ever been to the Midwest. “No, it is fine,” I reply. “Are you getting lots of home cooked meals?” Reindeer asks. “Yes. I ate samosas for dinner.”

In addition to being a foodie, Reindeer is a juice snob. He won’t drink anything made by Tropicana or Minute Maid and has some pimped out juicer. “When will I be getting my samosas?” Reindeer asks. From his tone I can tell I captured his interest. If he is dating someone else, her mother’s samosas are not as good as my mother’s! “Well, when I get to New York, we’ll have to make a plan.” WOW! That was very clever on my part, to set up the next meeting without sounding needy or desperate. “When do you come back?” Reindeer asks. “I will be in your neighborhood for a friend’s party,” I reply. This is no lie; my friend Abby’s daughter is turning one. “How will you come?” Reindeer asks. “Metro North,” I reply casually, like I go to Westchester County all the time.

“You should come up earlier and we can spend some time,” Reindeer suggests. I pause, to make it seem like I am thinking. “Oh, that might be nice,” I reply as if his suggestion was so novel and unexpected, when really I am thinking, “fin-a-freaking-ly!” “Where will you get Metro North?” Reindeer asks. “Harlem,” I reply. “I don’t think that sounds safe. I think the Fordham stop is better.”

This is touching and sweet. He’s worried about me. And I decide to let him be the man and feel protective. “That does sound safer. I’ll do what you suggest,” I reply. “Yes, I think that is best,” Reindeer replies.

Total disclosure: Harlem is safe. I roam around 125th Street all the time.


Contrary to public opinion, working for your father (like I do) is not a princess job. Instead of lunching with friends and filing my nails, I have been yelled at more times for other people’s mistakes than I can remember.

And God forbid I actually leave the office for lunch. Dad, because he’s stuck in Delhi 1967, feels that a woman MUST answer the phone. Sexism? Yes, a little bit. And when you work for your family, you wear lots of hats. With my undergraduate degree in architecture and graduate degree in business communications, I have done everything from answer phones, reprimand contractors and pick up the garbage. I draw the line at snow shoveling. That is a boy job. Sexism? Why not use it to my advantage?

Because I want to check my email and online news I need to come into the office early. My parents are fully enjoying a life in the dark ages with no Internet or cable. They do have Zee-TV beaming in desi serials from India. And yes, to their point, they are money saving Indians who don’t use computers or care that TNT has 12 hour Law and Order marathons.

I sit down at my desk and inhale coffee like the true addict I am. Then suddenly I have a heart stopping moment of shock. I am reading notifications from the matrimonial site of interested men (whom I plan to reject) and stumble upon Reindeer’s SECOND profile. Both profiles have TOTALLY different photos, descriptions and locations. One lists him as residing in the City and the other the County.

I check the activity on both accounts and see that he was on both around 10:00 pm. So he could have called me back last night. Does this mean? Is he seeing others? Why hasn’t he told me has two profiles? And why does he have two profiles? What if he assumed I would never find this one? I think then I should be more worried about that than if he is dating several women. And it’s true; Reindeer doesn’t owe me anything. We’re not exclusive. God I am an idiot for brazenly liking him.

Somehow I manage to get through the day and at 4:00 pm I bolt across the street. Jack and Jane are sitting at an outside table drinking beers. Jane dominates the waitress’s attention, ordering her salad as fat-free as possible in a Sally-from-When-Harry-Met-Sally-manner.

Jane has the uncanny knack to, in the middle of ordering, shriek at me, "You look hot!” Then turn to the waitress and say, “Can you believe she’s not married.”

I sit down next to Jack and say, “I am giving the keys to you because you’re the responsible one. He smirks and asks, “How does it feel to be back?” “Okay. Lots of trees.” Jack laughs and says, “How is Reindeer?”

Ugh. Jack must sense something is off and says, “Don’t worry he’ll call. You’re a catch.”

I don’t think Jack knew how much I needed to hear his kind words that day. Thank the goddesses for friends like him.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


On Sunday night, I lounge with a book. All around me, my things are strewn about --- shoes, clothes, cosmetics, purses, magazines --- not only in my bedroom, but also my brother’s bedroom next door and across the bathroom counter. As a teenager I would NEVER have gotten away with creating this chaos because my mother keeps a very meticulous house. Growing up, my brother and I never dared to leave a closet door ajar. And normally I am a fastidious clean freak. But coming out of cramped and crowded Manhattan has me wondering what to do with all this space.

When I begin to doze off my phone rings and I pick up. “Hi sweetie,” Jane says. “How is South Dakota?” I ask. “Great!” Earlier that day my father asked where Jack’s family’s farm was located. I said, ‘somewhere between Rapid City and Sioux Falls.’ Incredulously he said, “that is the whole state.” Well, almost. “It is so relaxing here,” Jane adds. “We’ve been working on the barn for a few days.”

This amuses me about Midwesterners. They find work fun, which is probably why they make great employees with a phenomenal work ethic. When I used to live here … hhmmm … that was a little strange to say … I knew so many people who worked Monday through Friday and then went “up north” and spent all weekend working on their cabins. Come Sunday they came back to the Cities and worked all week and did it again. To be honest, I was never the “work on cabin” kind of girl. I might chip a nail.

“What time will I see you tomorrow?” I ask. A strange thing happened last week in New York. The night before Jack and Jane departed Manhattan for the Midwest, Jane left her house keys in her New Jersey office. Jack had already given me his keys so I could check on their cat (who hates me, yes, hates me). So they locked their apartment and left.

Now that they are headed back to New York tomorrow, her keys are STILL in the Garden State and Jack’s keys are with me, in Minnesota. Clearly luck and the goddesses have intervened, allowing for some sort of key exchange to occur. “Can we come around 4 pm and have a drink at Maxwell’s?” Jane asks and refers to a quaint corner bar across from the office. “Sure, I reply.

We hang up. I am still in the mood to chat and decide to call Reindeer. Immediately I go into voicemail. I look at the time and leave a message, wondering where a single man might be around dinnertime? On a date?

Ugh. The thought makes my stomach sick.


Monday, April 12, 2010


I lay on the bed in my childhood bedroom. From here I can smell my mother cooking tharka, onions browned in oil and ginger. It’s a pungent odor that is cooked into the carpet just like it was once cooked into my hair. A smell that led bus bullies to taunt, “Hey, the foreign girl stinks!”

When I think about it, onions were only the beginning. My dark eyes, un-prounceable name and straight A’s, only furthered the ridicule in school.

I spent a long time rejecting Ravi Shankar and replacing him with Madonna, my material girl of a heroine. I bought pants and lots of them, black ones. I heckled the sari, telling my mother it was ridiculously archaic. You better believe hell will freeze over before I slap a bright red bindi on my forehead. I make Taco Bell border runs rather than cook dal and roti. Ready-made food is easier, don’t you agree?

I pretended the smells of sandalwood mixed with sweat and petrol didn’t remind me of India. I lied and said I loved the American Midwest. It was a great excuse to wear goose-down. Of course, snow at the end of April was charming. The sight of beggars in India, starving children, bullock carts with dark dusty riders, trucks polluting the New Delhi horizon, had no effect on me.

The problem is I don’t like Madonna. Whoever thought to deep-fry onions into rings is a freaking genius. I heckle the sari because to wear it requires a grace I didn’t inherit from my mother. My problem with the bindi is I don’t know what it means. Are you kidding me? I don’t eat beef, what am I doing in the taco drive through lane again? I dislike goose-down and cold weather. Don’t tell anyone, but I should have moved to Los Angeles. I find Manhattan too cold, too.

Now I am beginning to think that when I rejected the goddesses, I was really rejecting myself. And then I thought if I just moved to Manhattan I'd be able to wipe the slate clean and start over. But as I am learning, it doesn't work that way. There are no go backs, only move forward.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


A few days later I’m in the window seat, slowly descending into the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Between lacy strips of asphalt, all I see is green trees, green grass, green leaves, green, green, green. And all the natural beauty transfixes me.

Were the lakes and parks always this pretty? Did it really take living in vegetation stark Manhattan for me to me appreciate Minnesota’s loveliness? I never believed it, but it’s true. You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

As the plane touches down on the tarmac the Northwest airline attendant says, “Welcome to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The local time 3:30 Central Standard Time. And the temperature is 78 degrees. We thank you for flying with us and hope you enjoy your stay here or wherever your final destination is.”

Wow! 78 degrees is a GREAT temperature for the Twin Towns. As we taxi, I generate my extensive to-do list: (1) spend time with my family, (2) see friends and their kids, (3) make an appointment with my trainer, (4) meet Jack and Jane when they pass through town, (5) run errands, (6) shop for capri pants, (7) buy a new cell phone, (8) have a cooking session with Mom and (9) work in the office.

Hhhmm. I better to work!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


On the Fourth of July I sit on the couch and chat with desi Banker finalizing our outing. When I look across the alleyway, a naked woman with ginormous breasts that flap against her three rolls of stomach leans out the window and beats her rug against the building. Wow, if that is not against the law, it should be.

When I get to the East Side Starbucks desi Banker is drinking HOT coffee on an even HOTTER day. He wears khaki pants, a grey tee-shirt and a pink, yes pink, polo shirt. Sure, Indian men have the coloring for pink and lilac. And the Banker does have a very well polished, metrosexual look about him, but pink?

We pop into Central Park and make the mistake of walking down Fifth Avenue. We then spend 10 minutes trying to move three blocks but we get stuck between tourists who insist on walking four people wide down the sidewalk (by the New Yorkers hate this). No wait, New Yorkers hate it when you suddenly stop in front of Tiffany’s and Bergdorf’s. At 53rd Street we make a worse choice by cutting west to Broadway and into the middle of Times Square, where we are manhandled by throngs of clueless Europeans.

“I ran on the treadmill for two hours. I am so fat. I really need to lose seven pounds,” he declares and pats his stomach. I am wondering if he saw the naked woman this morning too, because his brain is fried if he thinks he is fat. Or maybe he has issues. If so, this makes me like him more. I don’t like men who are too perfect.

We find our way to the Upper West and side and settle on a quaint café for cake and coffee. The air has gotten heavy and I worry that it will rain by the time the fireworks start. Two gay men walk by and desi Banker says, “people think I am gay.” Since I don’t know what the correct reply is, I just keep eating cake. I have actually wondered once or twice if he is gay. I mean, one billion desis --- someone has to be gay!

From the café we return to the East Side and have dinner at Mee Noodle Shop. If you haven’t been there, go! If you come to New York, go! Hell, I’ll take you! Not only is the food SOOO good, it is cheap. Their tag line is, “Eat your body weight for $10”. And they aren’t kidding. Sidebar: for someone who thinks he is fat, desi Banker sure is eating lots of fattening calories!!!

Finally, dusk settles and we fight our way back to the FDR. When it starts raining, I think of Reindeer. While I like desi Banker, I don’t feel that spark that makes me feel flirtatious and giddy at the same time.

Hhhmm. So the rain is not the most unfortunate part of the evening. The clouds are so close to the ground that when the Macy’s fireworks go off they can’t penetrate the clouds and leave a messy smoke in the air that I swear will give me cancer.

After 45 minutes of ooh-ing and ahh-ing, we shake hands and go our separate ways. Since I got no reading off of desi Banker, I have no idea if I will ever see him again.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

75. DESI PSYCHIC cont.

As silence fills the space between New York and Bangalore, I remember how close I came to settling.

And it scares me.

Would I really have married someone, anyone just to put my parents out of their misery? So my parents no longer carried the scarlet letter of “S” for spinster on their desi foreheads? So they were no longer burdened with an unmarried desi daughter rotting away in their metaphorical basement? Would I have married without love and lived miserably, just to register for Waterford Crystal (that I don’t even like) and then subsequently have the right to say “I am married.”

Thank God for the goddess Durga’s (Post 39)  divine intervention. If I can’t or don’t get out of a bad relationship due to blind lust on my part or asshole tendencies on his, she intervenes. When the PETA wielding, vegetarian Cat Boy ((Post 5) suddenly developed an issue to my carnivore ways, Durga removed him from my life. Or emotionally stunned Kehar Singh (Post 4),  who I was so attracted to that I would have engaged in criminal activity to please him (I am not joking). Durga must be the one who sent Kehar Singh on a two-month walk and me to India. The jury is out on what is Kehar Singh’s issue was. However, I think the problem with Cat Boy was his insecurity. He claimed to enjoy my intelligence and independent spirit. But once in a relationship he wanted me to change, to fit his mold of a desi wife. But it’s not possible to control a control freak.

So now that I am enjoying this blossoming Reindeer relationship, my cousin says, “This is what I need you to. Date at least five men at all times.” Okaaaaay, she is not raining on my parade, she is hurling a hurricane at me. “I can’t do that,” I reply sternly. “Why not? Men do it. I am sure Reindeer is dating two other women at least,” she rebuts. This is when I realize it is not possible to explain the za za zoom Reindeer feeling I have, to a woman who was arranged to her husband. So I try the rational approach. “I really don’t think he has the time to date several women as he travels five days a week.” “I see,” she says.

Then I say, “And I want to treat others the way I want to be treated.” “Now you’re just naïve. I’m going to the website and review profiles. I’ll send some for you to contact tomorrow,” she says and hangs-up.

See. I’m psychic. I knew something, someone, would deflate my Reindeer high.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Remember in (Post 73) when I said nothing could knock me off Cloud 9 that day? Maybe later? Well, if the writing, architecture or marketing professions don’t work out for me, I should seriously consider a career as a physic…

Forty-eight hours after my perfect afternoon in the park desi date with Reindeer, I return home refreshed from a mani-pedi combo. I am STILL so high from remembering every word of the thank you email Reindeer sent: "Thanks so much for the lovely day in the park...The company was awesome..I had a great time…I am off to golf today…Catch up later. All the best, Reindeer"

WHAT I ask, WHAT could possibly deflate my spirit, is what I am wondering when the phone rings. It is my cousin from Bangalore calling (Post 42, 40, 39). Also, I think my desi-dar is broken, because I should have been suspicious when she says she is calling to ‘just to say hello’. No one, especially not Indians, whimsically spends hundreds of rupees on “hello” --- my life is not a Lionel Richie song.

“How are you?” she asks. I reply, “Can’t complain,” which is what I normally do. My thighs are fat. My love life is on life support. I need to lose 10 pounds. “How are you? The kids? The hubby?” I ask. “We’re all good. How goes the dating? I need to know all the details.”

Since it took her all of 11 seconds to ask about dating, I realize she intends to rain on my Reindeer parade. So I concoct a plan. One that will surely be foolproof and leave HER wanting to marry Reindeer. Because I talk REALLY fast, in 15 minutes I detail word for word, eight phone calls and four dates, the outfits, how handsome he is, everything but the belly button lint. When I finish, she says. “Who else are you dating?” Ah…whaaat? Was she NOT listening to what I said?

I’m really grooving on Reindeer. And I haven’t been this jazzed by a man in years. Yes, for sure, there is an extreme danger in liking a man, this early in a ‘relationship’. But I so rarely connect with men, not just physically, but intellectually, too. “I am not dating anyone else,” I reply. Slight lie, I am meeting the desi Banker to watch 4th of July fireworks, but I don’t know about him. As if she can read my mind she asks, “What happened to the desi Banker?”

My other issue, in addition to being a control freak who cannot control her heart, is that I don’t do shades of grey. I am all or nothing woman. Either I love you and allow you to pillage my soul or I push you in front of an oncoming D train. I can’t do half way when I am in “deep like”. 

After a long pause, 10 seconds or so, just as I worry sound is stuck between two satellites somewhere over the Atlantic she says, “Do you think Reindeer he wants to marry you?” she asks. Hellooooo, this is America! I understand that in India four dates equals engagement party, but here in America you have to take a blood test before they give you a marriage license!

To be cont.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Once in Fort Tryon Park (one of the highest points in Manhattan), Reindeer and I find a shady spot under a tree, eat lunch and play several rounds of Connect Four. I am surprised to win all the games because I repeatedly lost to the Bouncer (Posts 54 and 53). Of course I was drunk back then.

Because my back is to the Hudson River, I don’t see Jack and Jane walking along the trail behind us, nor do I see them repelling the wall 50 foot wall to my right in an attempt to catch my attention. It requires them screaming, “Jerry! Jerry!” (it’s a nickname) from 20 feet away for me to FINALLY notice them. Because Reindeer is not blind, he too, has spotted the desi date crashers and pure terror washes across my face.

I wave them over. I mean, what other choice do I have? From Jack's face I know this was not his idea and against his will, he trails Jane, who is grinning big and huge. If she says anything embarrassing, so help me God, I may kill her. After introductions, Jack and Reindeer attempt to chat, but Jane takes over the conversation and stuffs our potato chips into her mouth. Jack notices Reindeer’s surprise at Jane’s bold potato chip eating, and makes a joke to ease the mood. In Jane’s defense, she and I are like sisters, so my chips are her chips.

When they leave, Reindeer says, “In the 10 years I have lived here I have never run into anyone I know.” “Well they live on the other side of the park and come every weekend. It is how I got the idea for our date.” He seems satisfied and we lie on the blanket, bask in the sun and play footsie. I don’t ever remember enjoying such a splendidly perfect Sunday afternoon under a bright blue, cloudless, humidless sky. He closes his eyes and I turn to look at him. Ew, belly button lint! And quickly look away.

When the sun sets we collect our things and stop in Bleu, a cute bistro for dessert and coffee. I wanted to take him to Bette Midler’s restaurant, New Leaf Cafe in Fort Tryon Park but they weren’t open. We order and Reindeer excuses himself to use the restroom. He returns and says, “Look at you sitting here looking all hot. Is this seat taken?” I die a little on the inside -- in the good way -- and say, “You’re cuter than the other guy. It’s yours.” Reindeer laughs and sits down. He tells me about spending the 4th of July with a local friend who has a very cute son. He never asks me about my plans and I don’t offer.

I walk him back to his car, and another kiss-less date ends. But it’s okay. I am on cloud nine and cannot be knocked off. At least not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Fort Tryon Park

Sunday, April 4, 2010


For my Reindeer in the Park date I try on seven outfits before finally pairing a white tunic with black capri pants. (Men, if you think women just pull two things out of the closet and call it an outfit, you are sadly naïve). My phone rings and I answer. “Hello?” “Hi, sweeeetie! Are you nervous for your date?” Jane squeals. “Ah, no, why?” I reply. “A man is about to see your house,” she states. I am tidy enough to put Mr. Clean out of business. So a man in my small apartment is the least of my fears. Delayed subways or an army of roaches is another story. Thank goodness for taxis and Raid!

As Jane and I chat the mobile phone rings. Reindeer. I ask Jane to hold. “Hello?” I ask. I must look something close to ridiculous with two phones, one accessorizing either side of my head. “How are you?” he asks. “Good,” I reply. For a moment I panic, thinking a hotter, thinner desi woman has enchanted him and he is no longer interested in me. “How do I get to your place?” he asks. Hhmmm. This is a great question. Unfortunately, I am Carless in the City and have no idea. Luckily Jane is on the other phone and I ask her for directions.

Two hours later a lost Reindeer calls. I ask where he is and venture out to retrieve him. How he got lost in a numbered grid street system is beyond me. I find him pacing in a very typical desi fashion, with his arms behind his back, crossed at the wrists, his hands resting on against his bum. As usual Reindeer is dressed nicely --- white linen pants, checked linen button-down and black slides. When he sees me, he perps like a Bollywood star, leaning against his very shiny black Mercedes. I must admit the combination of a well dressed man and a German import is oh-so-very-sexy!

I give him the tour of my 540 square foot apartment, gather the picnic items and take him to the bakery where we order chicken tortas. I ask for all the toppings --- cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, beans, jalapenos, except onions. Who wants bad breath on a date? Evidently Reindeer who partakes in the onions, leaving me wondering if we will ever kiss?

To be cont.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Reindeer orders an appetizer and salad for sharing. We nosh, review the menu and wonder about the specials. On cue the server appears and details the EIGHT, yes EIGHT specials --- defeating the point of “special”. And the volume of specials renders it impossible to keep them straight, prompting me to ask him to repeat the list three times. He doesn’t bother masking his irritation and I actually worry he may get violent when I ask about the seafood special that seems to contain every crustacean found in the sea. After all that, I select the ravioli and Reindeer orders fish.

When our food arrives, Reindeer and I are surprised to see his trout is surrounded by a halo of shrimp (from Post 62 we learned he is allergic). I express my concern for his healthy, but he assures me he can eat around the trout without ingesting the shrimp. God I hope so! I didn’t give up drinking to re-align my stars just so my date could die on Date Three!!!

Our conversations have a lovely, directionless flow, which is probably the reason we end up talking about his early US adventures. Before Reindeer delves into his story he pops a bite of bread in his mouth. He chews for a few seconds, and then the bread gets stuck between his upper lip and gum. So he thrusts his tongue at it and makes a face. In that moment I have a full on panic attack and decide I cannot date him. He is not the one. My stomach flips and I have a momentary hot flash. I want to get away from him but my apartment is on a whole other island! 

Once Reindeer liberates the wayward bite of carbohydrate he tells me about a graduate experience. He and his Spanish roommate were switching from temporary to permanent housing when they ran into three Indian guys who need a fourth roommate. In Hindi the three desis pressured Reindeer to dump the Spaniard and live with them. Reindeer refused, saying they were a package deal. The desis called him crazy. The desis told him to let the Spanish fellow fend for himself. But Reindeer stood firm.

Turns out, Reindeer and the Spaniard lived as roommates for several years. At some point the Spanish fellow told Reindeer, though he could not understand the conversation, he knew the desis were telling Reindeer to ditch him. And that the Spanish fellow appreciated Reindeer’s kindness.

Okay. Here is a man with old world values and is worth dating. Immediately my panic disappears. And with sudden boldness, I ASK Reindeer on a date. He says YES!