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.


Heather said...

... and so you drown yourself in projects and work to focus on anything else...

101 Bad Desi Dates said...

Dear Heather ... uh-huh, this is EXACTLY what I did. For years. I worked and fixed everything except myself .... until .... and stay tuned for what happens next :)