“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.