Monday, May 31, 2010


I’m chatting the typical “get to know you” stuff with Choco-man, who works for a candy company. Oh you’re an ABCD? Me too! Where did you grow up? Where is your family from in India? And while I am not learning anything exciting about him, I refuse to give up. Love is not like Time Warner’s “on demand” service, it takes time to cultivate.

From our conversations Choco-man grew up in the Northeast, went to school in the Midwest or is it the reverse? He also has a sister who is either a lawyer or doctor. Oof, I think the men and their details are blending together into one brown desi date. Either that or I contracted dementia from someone. Can you catch dementia like the common cold?

At any rate Choco-man and I meet on Friday, which happens to be Diwali (the Indian festival of lights), at an exhibit. Unfortunately an annoying, drizzle falls from the sky, which is better than a downpour. But either way I have to be careful and avoid sliding into the museum on my a**, bloomers a-showing, with a cocktail dress over my head, and my purse around my neck. Of course, since I arrive before Choco-man, I never needed to worry about my entrance.

Choco-man rushes in ten minutes later (black hair, brown eyes, medium build) apologizing for his tardiness even though he lives 2 train stops away. After touring the exhibit we’re starving and I suggest Thai so we can have vegetarian delights for our Diwali dinner as Hindus don’t eat meat on auspicious holidays. To which he is quite agreeable. Unfortunately our conversation lack electricity and we eat our pad thai and green curry in silence.

For a change I am completely okay knowing I’ll never see him again because he was SO nice and it was SO nice NOT to spend a rainy, Friday Diwali alone in a City that can literally tear you apart.

We say good-bye and I decide I am not in the mood to navigate public transport. With the flip of my hand I miraculously hail a cab in the rain and decide that is my Diwali present this year, a $25 cab ride and a stress-free commute home.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Every man and woman is beautiful. God would not create us any other way. This is why I truly believe we all have a soul mate. For some, like me, it just takes time to find him.

However, as I surf the matrimonial site I am wondering what God’s plan is for the men whose dreadful photo-less profiles I find today. It may sound superficial, but I do need to know BEFORE we meet if you have a handlebar mustache like the Air India mascot or if you think Levis corduroys circa 1984 are fashionable. And when you write things like, “I'm excited to meet/see you." Or, "I love women”, you do not entice me. You scare me off in the manner of a dirty old uncle who lecherously stares at my boobs.

What I find even MORE surprising is that these men are INSANELY well-educated with Indian undergraduate degrees and American MBAs that land them PRESTIGIOUS jobs at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deloitte, yet their profiles do not remotely resemble eloquence. Don’t believe me? Read the following excerpts …

Man One: I'm intelligent, computer graduate working in sales for an MNC. --- that is ALL he wrote, nothing about hobbies, interests, sports or ANYTHING! What would my response be? I, too, am intelligent and have a job, wanna get married?
Man Two: Moderate, well balanced, Consultant, with clean habits. --- for the non-desis clean habits = no meat, booze, smokes --- that is my whole life --- pass!
Man Three:…looking for professional partner to care for family and house. Also my parents live with me during summer. I expect my wife to look after my parents. They come from traditional background, but are open minded. --- how open-minded can these people be if they expect a woman to work, cook, clean, and care for elders? This sounds like a desi oxy-moron or a really bad Bollywood movie.
Man Four: (a mother posted this profile her for her almost 40 year son): The right choice of girl is 27 - 31 with good moral values and respect for parents, a university grad as well as being able to navigate herself in the kitchen. Lighter skin, slim built, over 5ft tall. --- WOW! Even Nur Jahan didn't wait on her Muslim Emperor Jahangir back in Mughal India. This guy and his mother need to join us in this century. Or consider buying a robot.

As I log off the computer it strikes me, I could help these men in a few simple steps. First I’d upload their photos. Next I’d ghost-write their profiles to include full sentences. And finally (do not under-estimate the power of new threads and shiny shoes) I’d offer fashion tutorials where the acid washed jeans and Velcro sneakers are replaced with charcoal dress pants and loafers. This way we’d all be a little closer to finding THE ONE. Because, let’s be honest, love is about attraction, which makes it a little shallow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


No one flinches when they learn I was in a sorority. Evidently I am “that girl” --- the one destined to wear letters, pomp and drink beer with boys. Unsurprisingly I’ve been asked once or twice if I liked “buying my friends” because I was paying money and dues to be a joiner. But I think, no matter what you do --- attend university, buy a house, open a J. Crew credit card, we’re all paying to belong to something (a college, zip code and rewards program).

And sororities are not only about boys and booze. By being a part of something bigger than myself I learned about my leadership skills, my limits, concern for my community and friendships that endure time and distance. I think that is why I continue to gravitate towards and flourish in women only service-orientated non-profits. I enjoy the structured camaraderie of volunteering, developing my skills, and seeing the potential in others. The fact that I made great friends along the way is an added bonus.

This is why I think Sex and the City  was so popular. Superficially, sure, it was about men, Manolos and martinis, but the enduring friendships that were developed kept me coming back for more. And really, more than anything (marriage, man, money, mortgage) that is what my life lacks right now, girlfriends. So I am hopeful, just like in all my other incarnations --- college, after college and now New York --- I’ll eventually find some soul sisters through this volunteer organization. I am en route to my third meeting! 

At the last meeting I had a brief conversation with a really warm and genuine woman from Texas named Ainsley Ayres. Unfortunately she was on the verge of tears most of the night and ran out the door as soon as we adjourned. So tonight I am hoping to see if she is okay. Despite not really knowing her, I can tell something very overwhelming is going on her life. I recognized the look. I had it a year ago when I was living in my former spicy-icy-Indo-Nordic life.

After the meeting I wave to catch Ainsley’s attention, she sees me, smiles and I walk over to her. She pulls her long wavy hair into a ponytail which shows off her perfect round face. Her fair skin is a striking contrast to her dark locks and gorgeous eyes. “Do you want to grab a drink?” I ask a little too hopefully because I literally see her teetering, wavering, debating, until finally she agrees.

We find a bar and drop our bags aside. Anywhere other than New York, two women in their 30s schlepping tote bags and over-sized purse might look like potential shop-lifters. In New York its how you tell the locals apart from the tourists.

“I have to get up early and am getting a cola,” Ainsley explains. “I’m getting a club soda,” I share. If we become friends I’ll tell her that alcohol was negatively affecting my already messed up matrimonial stars.  (Post 65). There is no need to potentially scare her off now.

We order our drinks and she tells me she’s dating a fireman, loves her church in Harlem, works for a retailer, and refers to herself as a Recovering Republican, which makes us laugh and she relaxes. The stress from her forehead and eyes begins to release. When I talk about my lack luster job and life she shows empathy. Then I tell her my "Hindu woman on a desi groom hunt" story and she nods and says she appreciates how hard that must have been in Minnesota.

And just like that our conversation catches a rhythm and we're chatting incessantly and almost finishing one another’s sentences. Why I don’t have first dates this great!?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to meet Dr. Balaji...God help the George Washington Bus Terminal. I think it has something to do with him living in the Bronx and wanting to meet me in my neighborhood. The only problem with my neighborhood is that it lacks date spots. And I don’t want to go to Starbucks because (a) it is always over-flowing with patrons and (b) it is kiddy corner from my apartment. On the off chance Dr. Balaji from the Internet is a serial killer, he’s not the type of person I want knowing where I live.

In my designer jeans, black turtleneck and tall boots I stand in the center of the bus terminal looking for someone South Indian and doctor-like. I am also wondering the following: what kind of date begins in a bus terminal? Who suggests this? Who willingly agrees to this? And what the hell is wrong with me?

Normally I wait around for time challenged friends. But today I decide to enforce my tardy policy (leaving after 15 minutes) because I really don’t want to be here. To pass my time I pace back and forth, attracting the attention of a stranger who speaks to me in Spanish. I roll my eyes and defiantly say, “I don’t speak Spanish.” He then replies, “Come talk to me in English.” No thanks, I think and sit down on the other side of the terminal. To further avoid Spanish Stranger I stare at the clock and it tortures me, slooooooooooowly ticking towards 7:15 pm.

When I can no longer look at the clock I take note of the large, open, and un-exciting space --- faux marble floor, kiosks tucked in the corners, wooden seats and a barely audible PA system. Finally, at quarter past the hour I race out of the bus terminal, texting Jack and praying Dr. Balaji doesn’t show up at the last minute.

Text to Jack: I think he is a no show. 

Text from Jack: We’re in Hell’s Kitchen. Get on the A train and text me when you get down here. 

So I flee. 

* * *

Twenty-five hours AFTER we were supposed to meet, Balaji rings and I let the call go to voicemail. If he had to perform a last minute surgery I’ll consider giving him a second chance. Of course I am wondering, how long, on average, does an operation last? Couldn’t he have called in the morning, or at lunch hour? I dial my voicemail and listen. “Allo, this is Balaji. Hoping you didn’t wait too long.”

Seriously? What kind of jackass doesn’t EVEN apologize for knowingly blowing a girl off? Does his mother know he does this? And for the love of Durga, warrior goddess of strength, empower me so I can do this all over again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Snap out of it! I self-scold. I did not uproot my ENTIRE life to sit around sad and despondent mourning Reindeer who I know for fact is over me. I finally logged back onto the matrimonial site and saw he has been regularly accessing BOTH of his profiles. In Hindi I want to curse at him. And I hope he marries an ugly girl.

The matrimonial site lets me store “favorite” profiles in a folder so I contact a few men and log off. I eye my bed and consider crawling under the covers and disappearing for a few days. Since I work from home no one would really notice my temporary departure from reality. I could also stuff my face with Lay’s sour cream and onion potato chips. Yum. Of course then I will break out and have shiny skin like a seventh grader. Un-sexy. Instead I slide into my tennis shoes and walk to the Hudson River lookout point where I  gaze at the GWB.

After getting fresh air I return home and find a missed call from one of the “favorites”. Wow that was fast! And I call him back. “Allo?” he responds between pauses. “This is Dr. Balaji.” Crap. I SOOOOOOO wanted for the next man to be perfect. Instead all my hope and good thoughts are crushed at the sound of his voice. His desi accent is very VERY VERY heavy and he elongates his “s” in the South Indian style. “Is this an okay time?” I ask. “Yes, great time, I’m eating,” he shares. “Should I call back?” I offer because I want to hang-up and never talk to him or anyone again. “No, no, tell me about yourself,” he mumbles.

I hate this question. Blathering on about myself makes me sound arrogant. And didn’t he read my profile? I detailed my interests --- art, architecture, theatre, books, cooking, eating. I almost ask him about himself but I don’t care to learn anything more and hope my self-promotion will drive him away while drowning out the sound of him chewing in my ear.

When I finish my diatribe he asks, “And what are you looking for?” Okay, scratch that, I HATE this question more the other. I never know how to answer it. In general I’d like a man who values education, family and ethics. And I want to be with a man who I find physically, emotionally and intellectually attractive. I know those constructs sound vague, but I know once I find THE ONE I will recognize how these pieces come together.

This is when I realize Reindeer was NEVER going to be THE ONE because he lacked emotional attractiveness. He never once asked about my goals, wishes and dreams. “Allo?” Dr. Balaji asks. Oh shit, Dr. Balaji still needs an answer. There is a teeny tiny part of me that wants to reply with, 'my illegitimate triplets need a daddy,' but I don’t think it wise and say, “I’m looking for a good person whose company I enjoy and whose values I share. “Me too,” Dr. Balaji says. “We should meet up.”

Great. The “triplets” and I are looking forward to it …

Monday, May 24, 2010


Working from home is a curse and blessing for the same reasons. It’s nice to set my hours. But there are days when I sit at the computer from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm. While clad in pajamas, the first thing to touch my lips (after I brush my teeth) is coffee. But as a snacker having my entire kitchen at my disposal is not deal for my waistline. And as a people person spending this much time alone is not good for me.

So when my Urban Nomads, Meera and Rohit, need my help, I can re-arrange my schedule to align with theirs. And if you’re keeping track, in the 11 months I have lived in Manhattan, they are moving into their third apartment.

While I am happy to help them I am secretly hoping I will miraculously meet a new man as we unload the car. One who will see me from across the street and deftly dart between deliverymen and oncoming traffic to ask my name. He won’t notice my attire (yoga pants and Keds) or hair (in a ponytail) and insist I join him for coffee. Unfortunately I will have to politely decline. My very important task of car-sitting to avoid ticketing and towing will keep us part. Of course my loyal dedication to friendship and duty will only deepen his attraction for me. And magically after a scene change and dance routine, we fall in love. Clearly I have watched one too many Bollywood movies, but this vivid imagination is all that gets me through the rock bottom misery days.

And no, I don’t simply mean heartbreak or Reindeer rejection. I am not ready to abandon the tough Manhattan dating battleground, where the women out-number the men. Give me some time, but I’m plucky and will get back into the game. It’s just that this break-up with Reindeer has ignited something deeper, my self-doubt. Right now my confidence is a little rattled and I’m wondering what I’m doing with my life and who am I living it for.

When I think about all the years I spent volunteering, I should have been focusing on myself. If I had moved to New York 10 years ago, I could have avoided the colossal career missteps I made. Who says I have to marry desi? And now that I live in one of the most American states, I am haunted by my lack luster savings. Why did I think 12 was the number of black pants I needed? I only have one ass. I should have invested all that money so I could save it (my ass) now!

So yeah, most days it’s my vivid imagination getting me through the now. It has me envisioning a tomorrow where I have a career that fulfills me, a life that energizes me, friends who nourish me and a love that sustains me. It keeps the insomnia at bay. And if all else fails, I have to believe that this is my life and I can reincarnate it any time I want.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Yes, oh yes, even positive, peppy like me have self-doubt. This is why I am wondering if I should stay in Manhattan. I mean, what if I run into Reindeer…on a date? I know the City is big, but I am not emotionally ready to see “her”, the new me, the replacement, ugh what if she is his “THE ONE”?

Then again, I cannot imagine moving back to Minnesota. Not that there is anything wrong with it. It’s just that I left for a reason. And I am not fickle or pathetic enough to abandon the beginnings of my Empire State of life because of one bad brown man.

With my one year Manhattan anniversary coming up, I think I’ve done okay. Outside of the collection of desi wing nuts I’ve dated, I renewed my apartment lease, mastered the City and met some new people through a volunteer organization.

For the most part my white hot hate moments for Manhattan are on the decline and generally my fault. Like the time aliens stole my senses and I went shopping at the Bronx Target on a Saturday right before they closed. Or when I boarded the D train NOT the A train after grocery shopping at Columbus Circle. Because both trains run along the same track for several miles, I didn’t realize my error until the conductor shut the subway doors and said, “Next stop, Yankee Stadium.” Talk about exercises in severe and psychological frustration!!! Aiy!

So I think what bothers me today is I don’t know WHY dumbo-head Reindeer and I broke up. (Obviously I have entered the “mature and refined” name-calling stage of relationship mourning). But I am consumed, wondering why he’d pass on a woman (me) who cooks, converses and doesn’t care that he golfs? On paper he said I was what he wanted. So what went wrong?

And honestly, I’m more mad at myself than anyone else. I started a war with my cousin over him. I built my schedule around him. I blew off friends to spend time with him. So I am ultimately responsible for how he treated the relationship, and subsequently me, like a Bed and Breakfast, checking in out and whenever he needed a date, shower or meal. Logically, intellectually, intuitively I know it’s better that he’s gone. Clearly, I wasn’t myself when I was with him because I wanted him to like me more than I wanted to be an equal.

So I must trust fate, God, and the universe for sending him away. I have to get okay that I don’t know why this happened. I have to accept that Reindeer was not THE ONE. I have to believe THE ONE is not only out there, but that he’s looking for me, like I’m looking for him. And when we find each other we’ll agree our love was worth the wait.

I have to hope and believe the best is yet to come. Otherwise, I won’t be able to face another day or desi date.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Dad left for Minnesota today. It was more stressful than sad because my brother called this morning to say my sister-in-law went into labor six weeks early.

Now that I am alone again, I feel the way I did the first time Mom left (Post 14) . Actually it's worse this time because I finally have to think about Reindeer. Which has me realizing that in so many ways Dad’s visit was a great distraction that allowed me to neglect myself and the residual Reindeer pain.

Sigh. Since I can no longer ignore myself I flop onto the bed and wait for the ache to commence. But instead of feeling pain, I feel flat. My emotions are empty and linear, stretching far and wide like the Midwestern plains. It’s almost like the edges of my heart were pressed into the asphalt, lacking corners or depth; leaving nothing to scrape back into a shape. I would actually prefer pain to flatness. And not blue pain, like depression or pms bloat, the kind that can be solved tequila shooters or Pamprin. I want to feel red pain, the mean reds that know how to swim, not drown.

This has me thinking that if I had been selfish, maybe this wouldn’t have happened to me. What if I had dumped him? What if I had ahd the relationship power and had called the shots. I should have been greedy. I regret cooking all those meals for him. I should have used him and wrapped myself in the relationship. I wish I had demanded the comfort I needed. I regret not asking for more.

And really, I am tired of being strong and a survivor. I am sick of being loving and caring and dependable and reliable. The thought of going back out there and doing this desi dating thing makes me want to buy a phone with a cord so I can wrap it around my neck! Because I just can’t do it again. I know I sound like a pouting baby, but I don’t wanna do it again.

Hope. That is how I got into this mess. I had hope. What a disastrous concept. It made me believe when there was nothing worth believing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


When you think about, my parents like all immigrants to America are plucky individuals who wanted more from life than what post-Partition India offered. Despite working several jobs and wondering where the next meal would come from, Dad knew he'd come to America. And Mom, who watched my grandmother claim to be fasting for this or that Hindu festival just to feed her four kids every night, decided to marry Dad and embark on an unknown life. Together they followed the beacon of Lady Liberty’s torch to the POLAR opposite part of the world. So it’s slightly amusing that I have to retrieve Dad from LaGuardia.

* * *

A few days latger Dad and I are riding a crosstown bus, headed to the Upper East Side. Contrary to what people think, New Yorkers are really nice. A hipster gave up his seat so Dad (an elderly gentleman) could sit down. I mean sure, New Yorkers don’t make eye contact because we don’t want to engage the one insanely crazy person on the train. But you regularly see men in suits helping mothers carry baby carriages up and down subway steps. So it has struck me more than once, that if you live in New York, you really have to love feel the city’s pulse in your veins. Otherwise it is a tough life, even if you are rich, with the toting of plastic packets and getting soaked in the rain when the cabs disappear. But for a lot of people like me, who didn’t really belong where they came from, New York is great. She lets you live without feeling obligated to apologize for your dings and imperfections.

When we get to the Guggenheim Dad scowls. “The façade is under construction?” he asks incredulously. “How can I appreciate it when it is covered in mesh and scaffolding?” While I love Manhattan, it’s really not the place for either of my parents because they don’t like theatre, museums or shopping. But Dad loves food and Frank Lloyd Wright. Me not so much. I had WAY too much modern architecture shoved down my throat as an undergrad. I found my teachers annoyingly childish with their blind worship of LeCorbusier. Yes, Corbu was a trailblazer, but he didn’t save small children from blindness, he brought flat roofs to the masses! Clearly I never had the makings to be an architect! And luckily I have this blog!!!

* * *

Later that week Dad and I are sitting alongside the Columbus Circle fountain listening to honking taxis. Dad reflectively says, “There is only one word that makes the whole word go around.” Because I am sarcastic I say, “Money?” Dad shakes his head. “Love. Love is what makes the world go around.” I nod but don’t say anything since love eludes me. “And if someone doesn’t want to give it to you,” Dad says. “Then forget them. Move on.”

I never ever EVER talk to Dad about my love life or boyfriends. We're “that” Indian when it ccomes to dating or God forbid sex discussions. It’s taboo and never spoken in our house. So I can’t help but wonder, if Dad just knows that I am in Reindeer pain. Can he sense my ache? Is this his desi dad way of encouraging me to be bold, strong and brave? To move on.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Jane has decided that my ache can only be healed with retail therapy (discounted of course) and a massage. Jack agrees. And they're just as upset with Reindeer as Meera and Rohit were last night. Clearly, what I lack in the boyfriend department I make up in the friends section!

Jane and I rummage through the sale section of the UES Banana Republic and I decide that I am in good emotion shape. I mean, look at me. I can function (shower, brew coffee, shop). So I can't possibly be in break-up shock.

I find a $30 brown and cream printed dress and try it on. "I think this is too low-cut," I say to Jane when I come out of the dressing room. “Sweetie you are SO buying it! You’re stunning in it!"

From the east side Jane and I race to the west side of Manhattan for our massages. Fifteen minutes into the massage I feel my faux hard shell crack and a few tears slide down my cheeks. So I try even harder to swallow the ache and remain strong so I don’t disturb the masseuse’s concentration.

But I am lying face down, so tears get stuck in my nose. When I can no longer breathe I have to sob just to get air into my lungs and clear my nose. This is when the masseuse finally asks, “Are you okay? Do you need some water?” She is so kind. “No, no. I am fine,” I reply and fib. Yeah right! I’m crying in a massage. I am the opposite of fine.

The massage ends and she brings me a box of tissues and water. “It’s okay, you’ll be okay. Massage brings the toxins to the surface. Whatever you are going through, massage will help get it out of you. And then you'll be fine."

I hope she's right. Massaging the heartache away sounds like the best idea yet. Especially since I don’t do drugs and cannot drown the little suckers of pain in alcohol!

Monday, May 17, 2010


In the 10 months I have lived in New York, Meera and Rohit have moved twice. And they are gearing up to for a third move. In general, moving is a pain. But in New York, I’d almost rather have my spleen removed with a plastic spork and no anesthesia then pack, hire movers and deal with a broker.

This evening we’re sitting in their living room discussing Reindeer’s inattentiveness. “Maybe I scared Reindeer with my ‘integrate our lives comment’?” I suggest. Meera rolls her eyes and says, “No. He had no problem coming over for your home cooked meals!” Rohit nods and adds, “If he’s scared to commit to to you now, he has no chance surviving marriage.” “And if he isn’t committing to you after three months kick him to the curb,” Meera reminds. “That’s right. At our age you know,” Rohit says with finality. The only plus side to having my love life exploding all around me is reassuring and validating friends like them. 

When my phone rings I grab it, "Hello?” I ask. “Hey,” Reindeer says. Seriously? We haven’t talked in DAYS. During which time I have experienced EVERY BLUE emotion known to man: sadness, depression, anger and now rage. And all he says is “hey”?

“So what you have you been up to in the last 10 days?” He laughs a little and this irritates me. “It’s not funny,” I say. He clears his throat and says, “That’s not right, 10 days.” First he blows me off and now he wants to challenge Desi Girl’s OCD-ness and fastidious record keeping. “I have the cell phone log to prove it,” I snap. “Okay, fine,” he replies quietly.

Am I really going to have to help this pansy-ass break up with me? God has a strange sense of humor. “Look, if you don’t want to do this, you need to tell me,” I say. Silence. “Say something," I suggest. Reindeer again clears his throat and says, “Uh-yea.” “Say something more than than" I demand. He sighs and I hear discomfort in his voice. Good. After all the tears I shed, he should feel some pain.

“I’ve been thinking…” Reindeer begins. "That sounds like a start," I reply. “…And I just don’t think this will work,” Reindeer shares. “Fine,” I say. He laughs uncomfortably and then says, “So I guess…” Ugh. I just spent 15 minutes helping him dump me. How long will it take him to say good-bye? So I decide to help him with that, too, “Okay, then,” I say and flip the phone shut.

DAMN! This is when I remember all the leftovers he took home in my Tupperware. How am I supposed to get that back? Shit! Losing a man is one thing, but indestructible plastic storage goods is another.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


It has been EIGHT days since I spoke to Reindeer. He hasn’t acknowledged my birthday wishes from two days ago, either. I mean, really, what nerve! He’s a consultant not a doctor saving children from malnutrition in Calcutta.

Not only is dating someone who doesn’t call back a nightmare, it’s hurting my feelings. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve contended with rejection. It’s just that I really thought Reindeer was the one. And if he freaked out at my suggestion of “integrate our lives” (Post 100) , it’s fine. I can’t undo the past. If he’s gay, that’s fine too. But if Reindeer wants to break up, he has to say it to my face or the very least, to my ears.

And I know, I know. Men would rather scale Mount Everest without gloves and endure frost-bite than tell a woman they are no longer interested. But sorry, ignoring Desi Girl is unacceptable. Reindeer will have to use his big boy words because I want closure. And I am gonna get it.

I reach for my phone and send Reindeer a text message. Then I wander around the apartment for a few minutes but the walls are closing in on me. I flop onto my bed and reach for Frances, my faithful teddy bear of a companion since 1984. What I don’t understand is how Reindeer just stopped talking to me. It’s like he can turn his feelings on and off like a faucet. And I regret falling for him when all he did was waste my time and emotion.

I curl my body into a ball. It takes a few seconds before the sobs rock my body. This heartache hurts so much. Is it like weight loss. It’s harder to control as I get older. I don't even care that my eyes will swell to three times their normal size. I just want to cry.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Intense, bright, and bold are words I would use to describe myself. I’d also add honest, giving and fair. But the combination of Reindeer’s waning affection and my feelings of neglect have me en route to the West Village to meet Super Smarty (Post 89)  for a drink (I’ll be enjoying a club soda with lime).

For a few seconds I stand outside the bar debating if this is cheating or keeping my options open as I fear the Reindeer tide is changing. And as someone who was cheated on  (Post 3), I’m trying to put myself in Reindeer’s shoes. What would he say if he found out? Then again, I had to pry Reindeer’s birthday plans out of him. And never mind that I spent weeks planning a surprise eating and walking architecture tour that concluded with a restaurant SPECIALLY making Reindeer’s favorite osso bucco. And I went ALL the way downtown to Chelsea (over 160 blocks and 45 minutes on the subway) to buy BEAUTIFUL red and brown vases to go with the décor of his living room. What a jerk!

Inside the bar I spot Super Smarty who is wearing a button-down and jeans. He sees me, smiles and comes over to my side. “Hi, any trouble in finding the place?” he asks. He’s sweet to inquire, but I’d have to be brain dead not to find something RIGHT on 8th Avenue and reply, “Nope, not at all. You picked a cute place!” He seems genuinely validated.

We chat and I find him really, truly, super, duper, incredibly nice. But I CANNOT stop thinking about Reindeer and begin to regret meeting Super Smarty tonight. I go on to realize that I am pretty much officially falling head over heels for Reindeer. And, once and for all I decide, it’s Reindeer or bust.

* * *

The next morning, Reindeer’s birthday, I call to wish him a happy birthday. When I go immediately into Reindeer’s voicemail I force the panic from my heart and leave an upbeat message. He HAD to have known I would call. So why would he turn his phone off? With dread I hang up knowing this Reindeer “relationship” is all kinds of wrong and about to become a hot mess.

Because I have to avoid falling into my girl habit of over-thinking every detail of every call and date we had, I call my parents who are the PERFECT distraction. My mom never listens to me and answers questions I don’t ask. Want an example? I will ask my mother what color the sky is. She will reply 12. And Dad? Yea, he likes to tell long-winded stories I barely care about. But their endearing idiosyncrasies are EXACTLY what I need right now so I feel connected to something. “Guess what?” Dad says. “What?” I ask, bracing for a 20-minute conversation. “I am coming to visit you in two weeks. I booked my ticket!” Dad announces.

Clearly, God has a VERY twisted sense of humor. With my love life crashing in all around me, the last thing I need is a house guest. Aiy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I accept that I am not super model thin or hot. But I am definitely cute enough to kiss. So it is with sincerity I can say, I am smoking hot this Thursday night in my strapless funky printed dress, denim bolero and bronze sandals. However, Reindeer has not complimented me. Nor has he noticed me dress, as he is preoccupied with a mood bordering on sullen.

We’re sitting at an outdoor café in Little Italy eating pasta. For early October the weather is amazing. I clear my throat and say, “I think we should do something fun for your birthday.” He is turning 40 in 10 days. “I am,” he replies. Oh? Why is this the first I am hearing of such plans, unless of course, they don’t include me. “What’s that?” I ask, forcing my tone to stay light. “My buddies and I are going to our alma mater for a football game and golf.” Because I feel a little kicked in the gut, I try to joke and say, “What no strip clubs?” He smirks a little, almost like he doesn’t want to but cannot help it. “Maybe Hooters. For the wings,” he replies. And the breasts, no doubt!

After dinner we walk around but the gelato and cannoli options don’t appeal to either of us. “I have an idea,” Reindeer says and leads us to  Rice to Riches.  “Rice pudding in every flavor you can imagine,” he says.
We survey the choices and holy moly Durga; Rice to Riches makes every flavor imaginable, from fruit to nut, spice to chocolate and everything between. I get plain, which seems to annoy Reindeer, who gets a tried and true mom flavor like maple nut.

I cannot explain it, but literally it feels like he slipped away sometime between our Star Wars dinner and now. Last we spoke he said I could not date anyone else, now he barely makes eye contact.

And these BIG plans to spend his birthday with his friends (fine he has known then for 20 years) don’t trouble me as much as realizing that his friends have NO IDEA I exist.

Of course he travels too, so that makes dating him difficult because I am competing with grocery shopping, his friends, yoga, golf and errands. Which then occurs to me, why are we still formally going on dates at this point? Why aren’t we running errands, cooking dinners and frequenting Target/Wal-Mart? So I ask, “Hey, I have an idea, we should integrate our lives, and do the day to day stuff, too.” He sighs and keeps eating his rice pudding. No good, right?


The Sunday night after our Italian dinner I call Reindeer. I presume he must be in Florida by now. I know he has been working a project there and planned to work Monday to Thursday and then meet up with his friends for the weekend. All of which means I won’t be seeing him for at least 10 days.

“Hello,” he says. “How are you?” I ask trying to keep my tone bright. “I’m good,” he replies. “How is Florida?” I ask. “I will let you know tomorrow,” he says. “Why?” I ask. “Because I am still in New York,” he says.

Like air being released from a balloon, I deflate. He was here all weekend and obviously he didn't want to see me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


You know how some girls (and guys) are like “I have to get laid...NOW!”? Well, as an uptight, prude I am not like that. However, I have been dating Reindeer for MONTHS and it’s like we’re living in No Action City, population Reindeer and Desi Girl.

So I have concocted a SURE-FIRE plan to resolve this most pressing matter. I invited Reindeer to my apartment for dinner and a movie. The UNIVERSAL sign for, “let’s hit it.” Or with us, I am praying for, “let’s smooch.”

Reindeer arrives and we sit down to another almost gourmet Indian meal, meatballs, raita (yogurt with spices and finely cut onions, cucumbers and tomatoes) and rice. “This is amazing,” Reindeer says. He is here under the pretense to taste test "my new meatball recipe." But I lied. I am too much of a control freak to chance a dinner date. I make this dinner for myself all the time, I know it's yumms.

“Sooooo,” I say to Reindeer, a little flirty lilt in my voice. “What would you say if someone else asked me out on a date?” He finishes chewing, looks me square in the eye and says, “No, f*cking way.” WOW! His reaction surprises and pleases me. I smirk, shift my shoulders and say, “Just checking.”

Now I know, believe I know. Men do not want to feel trapped into getting married. And I am not the entrapment type. But we’re Indians, who met on a desi matrimonial site with the intent to find spouses. So I am kinda thinking that he has some interest in marrying someone, some day. Which then has me wondering how long we plan on dating like we’re in a Jane Austen novel. And since I am warring with my cousin over him, I HOPE this works out with Reindeer. Otherwise I am going to have a broken heart and one less relative.

I clear the plates and pop the movie into the DVD player. “What are we watching?” Reindeer asks and makes himself comfortable on the couch. “Star Wars!” I reply with a HUGE grin. “I have never seen that,” Reindeer says. This is why I chose it. “Haven’t you seen this several times? You aren’t going to talk along with the movie are you?” Reindeer asks. “Of course not,” I reply, switch off the lights and cozy up next to him. I am hoping no one is talking or watching.

Well, for two hours we ACTUALLY WATCH the movie. What is more unbelievable than that, is, at the end of the night he kisses my fingertip...FINGERTIP! And then, he leaves.

WTF. Do I have body odor? Dandruff? Boogers? What is going on here?

Monday, May 10, 2010


Reindeer and I arrive at the theatre and immediately the Indian competitiveness begins. Sadly, unlike the Jewish community, I really don’t find that desis help one another in that brotherly spirit. The fact that we’re really driven in education (we have the goddess Sarasvati dedicated to knowledge) and purpose (we have a concept of artha, which includes garnering fame, wealth and social status, in the sense that you gather as much wealth, without being greedy), isn’t helping unify us as a people.

The tension is enhanced by the fact that we perp like we’re prudes. And to top it off there is an on-going push-pull when Western desis (American, Canadian, UK, Australian) meet up with Indian desis fresh of the boat or visiting from India. This is not to say desis in India are not hip, some are way cooler than the American desis. But there are plenty of desis from India who are conservative wing nuts with close minded village mentality that think women should not show their bare legs or work outside the home. These are the same people who think there are no gay desis.

While Reindeer and I stand in line, he hovers in a territorial manner because we are met with dozens of staring desis. Aunties in full sari and sweater gear glare at us. Young male FOB desis check me out like I am a plate of tandoori chicken. So gross. And the gaggle of desi girls looks to see if we have rings on our wedding fingers. Reindeer senses the shift in my energy and leans in to say, “Aren’t you glad I’m here?” Indeed, very glad!

The movie, Chak De! India  is surprisingly good and lean on the singing and dancing (I mean, as far as Indian movies go). And it seems to touch on all the issues that I think (as an American ABCD) hold India back from being a world power. Khan (whose character is Muslim) plays the former captain of the Indian hockey team. After a crushing loss to Pakistan he is harassed so badly that he and his mother are forced to leave their home. Khan then goes on to coach the Indian women’s hockey team. However the team dynamics are complicated by the players who bring their own competitive nature and cultural prejudice.

A girl from a Haryana village conflicts with the girl from Chandigarh, while the bullying Punjabi girl with a short temper negatively impacts the team. The girls from Assam (because they look more Chinese than Indian) are treated like foreigners in their own country (I can SOOOO relate to this). The South Indian girls are mocked for their accents. Another character has a fiancé pressing her to leave the team and another has a boyfriend who is threatened by her playing on the national team.

There were some parts of the movie that I thought you really have to be Indian to appreciate, but overall it was endearing the manner of Bend it Like Beckham. “Let’s have Indian for dinner,” Reindeer suggests. Seems fitting since we’re desis doing desi things.

In Midtown East we have several eateries to select from and Yuva wins. We barely sit down when Reindeer knocks over a glass of water that spills into my lap. “I am so embarrassed!” he says as I in vain mop my clothes with flimsy paper napkins. Good thing we have all of dinner and an hour train ride back to my apartment so I can air-dry in the summer heat.

It shouldn't surprise me or anyone else, but this date also ends, kiss-less. Shoot, if I was drinking, I would have shoved my tongue down his throat months ago. But it’s simply not lady like when you’re sober.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Last night when I was talking to Reindeer he asked, “Want to go shopping in SoHo tomorrow?” Uhm, do Hindus begin every auspicious occasion with the Ganesh prayer? We do!!! Soooooo YES I want to go shopping in SoHo.” Two of my favorite words, shopping and SoHo.

It has been a few days since receiving my cousin’s email. Kehar Singh is pretty much avoiding both of us. I can’t blame him. There are plenty of days that, if it was possible to divorce me from myself, I would do it. But I cannot energize those negative feelings right now. I have other pressing matters, such as it is August in the City and I almost had heat stroke drying my hair. My apartment has 5 outlets (yes 5, two of which are in the kitchen). And I cannot run the air conditioner and the hair dryer at the same time. It shorts the electrical system in the apartment and I lose power in two of my four rooms. Since I am short, to power back up I have to haul out the step ladder to reach the switch box.

When Reindeer arrives he is in a button-down, sleeves rolled to his elbows, black jeans and brown suede shoes. What is he thinking? It is 90 thousand freaking degrees outside. Then again he grew up in New Delhi, New York is NOTHING compared to that monsoon heat!

Because the A train is not running, we trek across the neighborhood to the 1 train. For most of the walk Reindeer seems surprised and scared. Which, I understand. Crossing Broadway up here is like going from Europe to South America, two completely different worlds, blocks apart.

Once in SoHo, the air smells like something is on fire. Later we’ll learn the Deutshe Bank was burning while we shopped. We pop in and out of a few stores, and barely hold hands. For the love of God and his cousin Chuck, what is this? The Victorian age? I should have worn an ankle length Pilgrim dress instead of capris and a summer top.

In J. Crew Reindeer tries on tee-shirts and seeks my approval. We pop into Puma and Reindeer asks, “Where do you think Uniqlo is?” What the hell is it? I wonder. “Hey, any chance you want to see Chak De! India, starring Shah Rukh Khan? It’s playing on the East Side,” I suggest. Reindeer looks quizzically at me. “Really?” he asks. “Sure it has to have sub-titles for the American desis,” I reply and shrug. “Let’s go! I have not seen a Bollywood flick in so long,” he says, genuinely pleased.

Hhhmm, this should earn me a gold desi dating star or two!

(Photo: Shah Rukh Khan)

Thursday, May 6, 2010


The next morning I wake up and find this email from my cousin:


A few days ago, Kehar Singh (Post 4) and I had a long conversation on why I ask about your dating scene and that I should back off this subject for a while. I am CCing him because this topic is shut with me for any further discussion and you need space from me.

Without getting too philosophical and saying that I understand what you are going through - I am emailing my point of view.

By sharing a regular Indian woman's point of view I am only trying to make you see the other world. You are an American but Indian and all Indian women are very very giving. We have had no other options so far. Check your mum’s and my marriage. But if I don’t push you - no one else cares enough to do so or is either scared of you or intimidated by you. No one says the truth to you on your face. But I have the guts to say it.

You are a smart and a strong woman- hang in there - I will take a back seat for a while. Wish you luck and fulfillment of your dreams.

The words are blurry. I don’t know when I started crying. All I know is I can’t stop. What if I don’t want to sacrifice myself to a man just be to a Mrs. I am educated, attractive, and funny. Am I not a catch? Should I not expect to find a man deserving of me? With my own eyes I have born witness to what wise women have endured under the umbrella of desi marriage. And I don’t want to be like my cousin or mom. Their lives are not enough for me.

Between crying and gasping for air, my lungs and ribs begin to hurt. Shit man there are a billion Indians, we invented arranged marriage and the Kama Sutra so why is this hard for me? Dear Durga, what if I am the problem? Is there something repulsive about me that I just don’t know? Am I too picky? What if I already met “the one” and didn’t recognize him? Will he come back? Or did he marry some else already? When did I become so insecure?

I re-read the email and again start sobbing at how final her words sound. Our bond is unbreakable. She knows my secrets and I know hers. And yes, I do, I really do, want her to be honest with me. But how from Minneapolis to Manhattan can she fault every action I advance? And how exactly does she think we can just stop speaking? We’re family.

It is like asking me to cut off my gangrene-infected arm. At the end of the day, it is still my arm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


When she finally speaks, my cousin says, “Your mum is very worried about who will take care of you when she is gone. I am a mum so I understand her concern.” S’nice. How can I possibly rebut second-hand Punjabi-Hindu-Mom-guilt?

“I found some more profiles for you,” she shares. Ugh. I don’t want her trolling the Internet for my husband. “Again, I think you should be dating no less than five men at one time. You’re in Manhattan use sheer population to your advantage. When you were living in stupid Minnesota no one came to meet you. Fine. Why should they come there anyway? It’s cold.”

“You visited in March!” I argue in defense of Minnesota. Just because I don’t want to live there doesn’t mean it’s without redeeming qualities. “Stop thinking with your heart and use your head,” she snaps. I sigh and say, “But that’s not right. Reindeer isn’t dating anyone else. And Kehar Singh (Post 4) thinks you’re off base, too.” She groans, “You’re taking advice from an emotionally stunted man who broke your heart and never plans to marry?” I turn on full sorority girl mode and drag each word, “Oh. My. God. He’s OUR friend. He’s YOUR best friend…”

“Look, I know you want an A grade guy but are you really A grade? No. You’re old. You’re slimmer but not that skinny. I think your standards are too high and you need to consider B grade guys.” Well now that I have been put in my place I say, “Why don’t I marry Prestige Uncle (Post 24)? He owns the pizza place and is damn sexy in the tomato stained wife beater and gold chains nestled in his salt and pepper chest hair. His idea of a date is a New York ‘Jankees’ game. Too bad I don’t like baseball!” Again, God, why? Why did I give up drinking? I could drink the bottle bone dry and then use it to hit myself on the head. Should be less painful than this.

Horrified she says, “Of course you should not marry an uncle type!” “You all just want me married so my parents can be free of their burdensome unmarried daughter. Then they can die in peace,” I snarl jaggedly. Oh yes, this conversation is definitely NOT my finest moment.

What annoys me, though it shouldn’t since desis are arranged marriage people, is the lack of discussion about actually LOVING the guy in these groom-hunting conversations. The fact that I seek a man who makes me laugh and has a comforting voice doesn’t seem to matter to anyone OTHER than me. I don’t need three years to decide if I want to marry, but I need more than three months. Sometimes, which is becoming more often than not, I think I should agree (read: settle) to one of these desi B Grade dudes and free myself of these conversations that leave me feeling wide eyed and plastered to the wall.

“I am trying to help,” comes her tired voice. “You’re not helping.” “Fine,” she says and the conversation ends.

Not only have I hurt her feelings I also feel like emotional shit. Can I not simply be allowed to fall in love with Reindeer? Of course, there is that pesky issue with his two profiles … why can’t I EVER catch a break?

To be cont.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


“How are you? You don’t sound too good,” my cousin asks. Hhhmm. We’ve been on the phone less than a minute and I am exhausted from trying to decode the secret meaning of her words.

Deep down inside I know she would never hurt me, and given all the reasons to be suspicious in New York, she is not one of them. So I relent, “I’m fine. Just tired. It’s after midnight.” After a long pause she says, “Yes.” Then an even longer pause elapses. “Each time we speak you sound like this. Defeated. I think the American life is too hard. You have no one to cook for you or drive you.”

Okay, this is really NOT TRUE in New York with the MTA and million eateries. But there are other aspects of New York that are gritty and hard --- the homelessness, cost and competitive everything (dating, dining, dry-cleaning). She then says, “I think you should consider India. I can get you a really good job.” Probably because in a nation of 1 billion desis matrimony is almost guaranteed, and so she leaves out the ‘I can also find you a husband.’

I burrow deeper into the couch and get comfortable. These calls about my imminent spinsterhood coupled with impending poverty are seldom brief. “Look I just moved to New York nine months ago. Now you want me to move to India? No thanks.” “What is so bad about India? You are the only American I know with issues. Thousands of goras (desi for Caucasian) come every day.” “Yes, but the goras are foreigners in a foreign land. You Indian desis treat us American desis like shit.” “Oh-fo! This argument again? Who cares how anyone treats you if are clearing a $100K.”

Despite being an uber chatty Chhaya, I become fiercely silent. I don’t want to live in India. Ever. Dad didn’t slog his way of that country and set up base camp in Minnesota just so 30 years later I could go back. Pass.

“How is the dating coming along?” she asks. Oh finally something that interests me! “Reindeer and I had a great Mexican dinner date. He knew I had been wanting it for weeks and he is not a fan and went anyway,” I gush. Who knew love could be found in an endless basket of stale tortilla chips and under spiced salsa? “Who else is there?” she asks. “Who else is where?” I demand.

Several seconds go by. The hollow echo of my voice reverberates across the satellites. Several more seconds pass. Still I don’t hear her respond. Thinking the connection cut out, or is stuck between two coordinates; mid-beam in space I shake the phone (because that always works, not)and wait.

To be cont.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I flop onto the couch and pull a cotton throw over my legs. I get cold in the air conditioning. Last week I told Kehar Singh  (Post 4)  that I’ve been feeling down lately. Then I confessed that as much as I love my cousin she is not helping my mental state with her crusader like inquisition about and men. He told me he’d talk to her. I asked him not to fight my battles. It doesn’t seem fair to make him do what I won’t.

I sigh and roll onto to my side. You can almost see the imaginary line dividing my living room in half. On one side the furntiture is arranged around a television that could double as a toaster because of its’ size and shape. Next to that is a skinny metal console that houses statues of the Hindu gods and goddesses. Day or night I can glance across the room and see Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, Hanuman and Durga watching over me. It makes me feel safe.

On the other side of the room is the extension of my home office. What used to be the dining table is now my second desk with the laptop placed directly in the center. Between my nails and the oils from my fingers I tapped off most of the letters on the keyboard. Since I cannot afford a new laptop, I bought a wireless keyboard and laser-guided mouse. Because I like order and symmetry I have two pen cups on either side of the laptop. One is filled with an assortment of scissors that cut squiggly lines and the other has, what turns out to be, pens that mostly don’t work.

Along the adjacent wall are bookshelves filled with fiction, non-fiction, and self-help books recommended by Oprah. Amid the literature I display framed photos of my family, vases, candles and a clock.

When the mobile phone rings, I debate answering. It’s my cousin calling from India. There is a little part of me that thinks I should let it go to voicemail, but don’t. “Yes?” I ask hoping I sound bright late at night. “Hi!” she says. “I called the land line and mobile twice yesterday why didn’t you answer? I was worried.” How exactly am I supposed to stay mad at her and remain strong at the same time? Is this a talent all Indian women learned except me?

To be cont.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Reindeer is coming over to collect his babka and have dinner. We got into a discussion about which one of us was a better chef. His disbelief that I supersede him in this arena insulted my inner desi girl who can cook veg and non-veg dinners. So it may not have been wise to bet a man for whom my intentions are lustful. See, I am really competitive. To the point where I don’t play games with my friends because I am equally awful when I win (gloat like mad) or lose (pout like a baby).

I am expecting Reindeer at 6:30 pm. The hour before his arrival I scamper around the apartment setting the lighting, adjusting the air conditioning and stirring vats of chicken curry, spinach paneer and spiced rice. Since neither of us drinks alcohol I quickly make a batch of pink lady punch pineapple juice, cranberry juice and ginger ale).

Around 6:45 pm, I worry that (a) Reindeer has stood me up or (b) I have confused the date. Even though I keep meticulous records and have the ability to remember EVERYTHING said to me, I doubt myself. At 7:00 pm just as I reach for the phone the buzzer rings. Since I assume it is him I just zap him in and open the door.

Hhhmm. I told him we were having a carpet picnic and he should dress casually. I am wearing shorts and he has on dress pants, a button-down shirt and a VERY large bouquet of sunflowers. “These are for you,” he says. “Thanks!” I reply. “You didn’t ask who was at the door,” Reindeer scolds and locks the door. It is true. I must admit that I enjoy his concern for my well being. Another sign that a man is interested. Now I am certain that we’ll kiss tonight on our lucky 7th date!

While he surveys the kitchen and lifts the lids off the pots, I pour two glasses of punch. “Impressive,” he says. “I intended to win the bet.” He nods and I know, victory is mine. And really, how can he resist me? Dinner is amazing and I now dessert will BLOW his mind.

We fill plates with food and retire to the living room where I have a printed sheet and pillows all over the floor. The down side is my stupid stereo DIED today so I enlisted the clock radio for some light jazz. For desert we enjoy white chocolate mousse with berries and a macadamia nut crunch torte (yes I made both from scratch) and finish with chai, tea spiced with my mother’s homemade masala (cinnamon, peppercorn, cloves, ginger, cardamom).

Around 11 pm he says he should head back because he has yoga and a long commute back to Westchester. He thanks me for dinner, I remind him to take his babka and he leaves. What is going on here? I am the ONLY girl who cannot get kissed in Manhattan. Aiy!