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.
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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!!!
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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.