Thursday, July 29, 2010

156. MY JOB FURTHER COMPLICATES MY LIFE

In addition to the Town and Country disappointment, my job (I work in my family's architectural practice) is negatively impacting my life. I have worked there since I was 16 years old and have spent two days crying over it (sidebar: I could write a whole blog about misadventures in employment). Dad's office is also why my brother and I majored in architecture; and the reason entrepreneurs (like Dad and Town and Country) fascinate and terrify me.

The office has always been more than a business, it’s Dad’s identity and he derives extreme joy from it. At the same time when he was stressed or business was slow his frustration seeped into every aspect of our lives. It’s not as though I didn’t benefit from Dad’s hard work and successes. The parking ramp on 19th Avenue, across from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management put me through college (see photo to the right). So I put up with the office as it attended family vacations and dominated every dinner conversation. The office was like having a redheaded stepchild and illegitimate sibling rolled into one. I could never escape it and sometimes it felt like Dad cared about it more than me.

When I graduated from college I wanted to move to Manhattan. But Mom said, “Daddy is counting on you.” I told Mom, “I want to find myself.” “You’re not lost, come home,” she ordered. At 21 years old, obedience was easier than fighting for my wants and so I moved home.

After a while the experience of working with my direct gene pool made me want to set my hair on fire. Dad and I have similar hot-tempered, impatient elements in our personalities. Sometimes when we mix it can be a volatile combination. My mother is soft spoken and rarely voices her opinion, which gets annoying in about three minutes. And my brother regularly dodges family crossfire with his diplomatic style. That was a lesson I should have learned from him!

There were times when I really resented that damn office. It determined the direction of all our lives. It was my father’s baby but my brother and I ended up dealing with things that were not in the job description. A bat (named Wayne after Bruce Wayne of Gotham) lived in the basement for a few months. He scared the shit of me and I envisioned him landing on my head to take a pee. Two years in a row Spring came early and melted the snow faster than it could run off and flooded the basement. My brother and I spent days shoveling snow and sucking up water with a shop vac. The following year the main pipe connecting the Minneapolis sewer system to our building settled. Those three days of hell was all it took for me to fully appreciate indoor plumbing. In the end, for family and love, you make concessions.

In some ways my family is why I date desi men with a vengeance. Dad once said bring home an Indian man or don’t come home at all. Sure there were instances when I thought, dude it’s Minnesota, there aren’t a lot of desis and who cares love is color-blind! But then I pop in a Panjabi MC or Hard Kaur cd, dance around the apartment and it’s me who wants to be at the center east-meets-west, where bhangra collides with hip-hop.

But as I relive every moment of my life up to Tuesday’s conversation with Dad, in which he tells me I am overhead the business doesn’t really need any more so I should get another plan in place, I feel very righteous that I have been wronged. I did EVERYTHING they ever asked, EVERYTHING, and now that the world is entering a global recession I am a burden? Bite me.

On top of that, I live in Manhattan, a most unforgiving place if you’re not fabulous or a celebrity (of which I am neither). It’s not like I can JUST find a job tomorrow. So I am not okay feeling like I am nothing more than a soda, once the cola is consumed the can is dispensable.

A life's worth of resentment flows through me and I blame myself and Hinduism, and the goddesses Radha and Sita. Actually, scratch that. I feel empathy for Radha. She was so in love with Krishna that she accepted being invoked in prayer rather than be affiliated with the man-god himself. I can relate to loving someone so much you accept whatever, even scant bits, he offers you. But I feel pity for Sita. She followed Rama into the jungle, disobeyed him by leaving the compound, was kidnapped by Ravenna and then banished from the kingdom. Time and time again Hinduism reminds me that there are consequences for disobedience. But where did obedience get me?

All that matters is my foundation shook and shifted, and I doubt I will ever be the same.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

155. WHERE IS MY SNOW PLOW?

Around 6:00 am I wake up and feel pain running along the left side of my neck. Oopsy, I fell asleep on the couch at a crooked angle. My contacts have fused to my eyeballs, rendering me almost unable to focus on the grey, rectangular fuzziness that is my mobile phone and some shoes that have seen a better day. Through the blur I see a missed text message from Town and Country that came in at 3:00 am. 


T&C: Landed!

Desi Girl: Great to landing! Party was fab! (I wonder if he thinks I am still partying or just getting home or waking up. I really should find eye drops.)



Sunday comes and goes. Odd that he did not return my text. So I email him. Monday I chat with Meera and tell her about the fundraiser and radio silent Town and Country. “Emailed him? Tell me you didn’t!” she shrieks into the phone. “Now he thinks you’re interested. You reached, he didn’t, and then you reached again. Didn’t you read the book?”

Normally I would agree with her. But Town and Country and I were emailing non-stop for three days and then spent three days in a row together. Doesn’t that count for something? Anything at all?

***

Apparently not. It takes days, FIVE to be exact, for Town and Country to be bothered with contacting me via text. And I know he’s addicted to his phone.

T&C: Just got back. Let’s catch up this evening.

It takes everything I have, but I force myself to wait an hour and a half before emailing a response. This is my attempt at seeming calm, cool and collected. Even though, deep inside I know something happened to Town and Country’s interest in me.

DESI GIRL: Welcome back. Sure let's catch up. Do you want to chat or have dinner?
An hour later T&C writes: I’ll call you later, ok?
DESI GIRL: Sure. Call later. I’m packing for Killington.

For some reason, against my better judgment, I have agreed to go skiing with some girlfriends. I am a little worried because I am one of the drivers and I hate driving. It’s one of the reasons I left Minnesota. The other reason of concern, and this is the important one, despite growing up in Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes according to the license plates, I don’t know how to ski. I also don’t know how to swim, which is why I felt like I was living in “Land of 10,000 ways for Desi Girl to drown”. Both of which contributed to my preference for indoor activities like shopping and eating.

Later in the evening Town and Country texts me: Have friends in town. Going to dinner. Catch up when you’re back?

For some reason I thought Town and Country was different. Did I imagine his persistent pursuit of Desi Girl? Because I swear he was the one emailing and texting with the fervor of someone who wanted to gobble up my free time. I wish he had told me he would, at my expense, hibernate at will. 

Because now I feel like I’m losing control of my car in snowstorm. The freezing rain has turned into the heavy snow of rejection. And the slick black ice of being cast aside sends me careening across the freeway and I again, land upside down in the ditch. Where is my romantic, available and emotionally supportive snowplow? Will he ever come and clear the road in advance of me?

Or are my stars so bad that I am destined to spend this incarnation perpetually stuck in a bank of desi dating snow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

154. I HATE MY FEET … OR MAYBE IT IS MY SHOES I HATE

I love to dress up. This is why tonight’s fundraiser has me almost giddy, reveling in the glorious sight of men in tuxedos and women in floor-length gowns.

Because I am a fashionista on a budget (what an ugly word) I opted for a black and silver lengha (short blouse and long skirt with a matching scarf that doubles as a shawl), bejeweled in sequins and silver zari thread. What is even more fabulous than how I feel (Indian princess) is that I always fit into Indian formalwear with its adjustable waist! My shoes are another story. I have been in these death traps for five hours and want to cut off my feet. And I love my feet. They are my portal to pedicures. [p.s. that is not me to the right, nor do I look like that, these are examples of lenghas].

I walk around the beautiful ballroom, ablaze with candles and lights. There are two bars flanking either side of the room and tables line the dance floor. Because we had wine at dinner I decide to peruse the silent auction but it's a blue and silver blur of spas, ski vacations, haircuts, and diamonds.


My friends want to boogie so we grab champagne and head off to the dance floor. Slowly we make an amoeba shaped circle and dance like Americans. Half of us flail our arms, while the other half contort our bodies like we’re in a Wham! video.

Around midnight, I realize I am not drunk or trashed. Holy bad manners, I am shit-faced at a ticketed formal event surrounded by glamorous and sophisticated people. Somehow in my beautiful Indian clothes blinking has become a challenge. On, then there is the matter of my feet. I no longer feel them. And so I decide I must leave. NOW!

At the coat check I can’t tell if I’m slurring. More importantly I don’t care. I slip my coat on, accept the goodie bag, gather the folds of my lengha to keep from sweeping the sidewalk and hop into a cab. I get home and have no recollection of the FDR or the taxi cutting across Washington Heights to my building.

Inside my apartment I shrug off my coat and untie my lengha skirt. It falls onto the floor and forms a black lake of silk. In my blouse, stockings and shoes, my hateful shoes, I plot my escape from silver strappy leather. I try and kick them off, but they won’t budge. Hhhmm. That was weird. Normally these things just slide off.

I sit down on a chair and tug at the strap, trying to pull them off. But they seem stuck. Did someone super glue them to my feet? I pull one foot close to my face, just under my nose, to inspect the buckle (thank goodness those four yoga classes made me limber enough to do this). I rather hoped this action would jog back memory of how buckles work. Instead an opposite situation occurs. Fear shoots through me as I realize I don’t remember how to push the pin out of the hole. I try pulling at the buckle. That doesn’t work. I tug at the front of the shoe. Nothing. I yank at the back. Nothing. Holy crap. I am trapped in my evil Macy’s sale shoes.

Finally, because desperate times call for desperate measures, I find scissors and sit down on the couch. With two quick snips I violate 101 fashion codes, including always save the shoes, but manage to liberate my feet.

Ooo. Let’s see, no husband, too much bubbly and a scissor to shoe sacrifice …. Oh yes, life is so NOT on track.

Monday, July 26, 2010

153. YOU AND ME, AND A LITTLE FLEA … MARKET THAT IS!

In the back of the cab I close my eyes (something I would NEVER do on the subway). Now that I have a moment, I need to release my plumbing frustration and transit stress, and clear my head of all thoughts, but my phone yips, alerting me to a text message. I pop one eye open and see a message from Town and Country.

T&C: Good morning. When should I expect you?
DESI GIRL: In a cab, no more than 7 minutes away.
T&C: Good. Text me when you get here. (He then explains how he is in the middle of a complicated matter between two siblings, more name-dropping and money talk).
DESI GIRL: Sure thing. (Again why is he telling me? It creates a push and pull, between wanting to pursue him and walk away before I invest myself and end up as romance road kill. Because I really am a simple gal. As long as I can get my nails done and buy shoes, I’ll be fine. I am not looking for a bank account, I have one. What I don’t have is a life partner and that is what I want.)
T&C: Change in plans. Meet me at the corner.

I give the driver new directions and Town and Country is exactly where he said he would be in an army green jacket and a cap tight to his head. I suppose this must be the advantage of being bald, looking sleek in a wool cap. He pecks my lips and I give him his coffee.

“I bought vanilla scones.” “I don’t like sweets,” Town and Country says. Okay, I’ve a shitty morning the least he can do is freaking play along and eat the damn scone. “These aren’t sweet,” I insist and he eats it. “How was it?” I ask. “Very good,” he says.

We walk, sip coffee and listen to how tranquil Manhattan is on a Saturday morning. She seems sleepy, serene and almost innocent, with only a few foot soldiers ducking into coffee houses, walking dogs and collecting newspapers in their pajamas. We reach the flea market and stroll between tables filled with vintage clothes, wigs, jewelry, books, records, faux fur, old tin plates, brass goods, wood goods, comic books, and turquoise. My mind goes numb from what previously owned goods you can buy. 

What I find even more fascinating about Manhattan is that this is a town where the average apartment lists at $1.4 million, most people live WAY beyond their means and tote bags can cost more than rent, yet there are more flea markets and street fairs than I have ever seen. Town and Country takes a call and I check my phone and see several missed calls from Rohit and Meera.

Rohit NEVER calls me and Meera is not a phone person. I return the call and it barely rings. “Where are you? Tell me you are NOT still with him?” Meera demands.“I am,” I reply. She starts screaming and then says, “Honey! She is STILL with him!” Rohit gets on the phone and says, “Where are you missy?" "Flea market. And my name isn't Missy," I tease. “Tell us EVERYTHING!” Meera shrieks. Evidently I am on speaker phone and say, “He is standing five feet away I don’t think your request is the best idea.” “Fine. Call us back," Rohit says. "Oh. My. God! He wants to fill every moment of time and space with you,” Meera says.  “What if he buys you something?” Rohit asks. “I don’t want anything," I reply. “What?” Meera yelps. “If he buys, you accept!” “I’ll call you later. Once you come off that caffeine high,” I say, laughing, feeling blessed for their friendship.

Town and Country and I leave to have lunch. He orders tea and I a Diet Coke. He spends a couple minutes looking around and shakes his head. “This place could make so much money. But the staff is clueless and the service slow." Always the businessman. I wish I was like him, more dedicated to the pursuit of my dreams, goals and hopes. At the end of lunch I insist on paying, he resists at first, “I like paying,” he says. But I can be VERY persistent when provoked and say, “My treat." He shrugs and lets me. “I am off to a conference tonight,” he says. “I am off to a fundraiser,” I reply. “My flight gets in around midnight, but it’s too late to call you,” he says. “No it’s not,” I reply. “Great. I’ll text you then,” he says.

Super! Date Four must surely lurk around the corner!

152. DATE THREE IN A ROW WITH TOWN AND COUNTRY

On Saturday morning I wake up and press snooze one more time. I am quite excited, but a little suspicious for my third date in a row with Town and Country. I have found dating in New York rather hard and the men challenging. All the articles I read, saying New York is the hardest place to meet a man, are not helping. Some days I would prefer to have root canal than go on a date. So is it possible that I’ve stumbled onto a guy who doesn’t believe in the abnormal cloak-and-dagger-gonna-call-not-gonna-call-you Manhattan game? Is it possible Town and Country thinks, when you are interested in someone, it is normal to go out with them three days in a row? In any case, it is delightful to date a man who wants to date me.

When the alarm goes off again I push away the covers and hop into the shower. As I wash my hair I wonder what one wears to a flea market. I already wore black pants on Thursday night and jeans last night. It is still too cold to wear a skirt and probably too dressy. I turn off the water and notice that a 12-inch pool of standing water has collected. But I did take an EXTRA long shower and it is not usual for the water to sluggishly move through the old pipes.

I jump out of the shower, and pull on a black turtleneck and fitted jeans. I pop back into the bathroom to put on my make-up and see the water has not HAS NOT drained one teeny tiny bit and this makes me nervous. But not wanting to panic before my date, I calmly put on my blush, eye-shadow and mascara. In that time there is no reduction in the water level. I leave the bathroom, change purses, come back and see again no recession in the water.

Because I don’t know what time I am coming home or the first thing about plumbing, I don’t know if I can leave the tub like this. And I don’t have time to wait for the super to come address the issue. So I race into the kitchen, find a pot and start scooping one pan-full of water out of the tub and into the toilet. Ugh. So gross. When I am done playing plumber I have to change my clothes because I am drenched in sweat and dirty tub water.

For some reason last night I offered to pick up coffee so I lock the apartment and rush to Starbucks. I get to the cafe and find it PACKED. When did all these people move in my neighborhood? And why are they all awake at this hour? I glance at my watch. Town and Country lives a solid hour away from me, now that it is 8:10 a.m., I wonder if I can meet him by 9:00 a.m. Screw it, I can get coffees downtown. There are two Starbucks at Columbus Circle.

I scurry across the street and find that the A train is not running its regular route. I have to take a shuttle bus to 168th Street and then take an A train running local not express. Because I boarded the most unhurried A train train known to Manhattan we arrive into the 125th Street Station at 8:30 a.m. WOW. At this pace Town and Country will be dating someone new by the time I reach his house. And because I am underground I cannot EVEN text him to tell him my troubles with transport. Luckily my life is not a complete joke, and a D train (runs express to 59th Street) pulls into the Harlem station. I grab my purse, run across the platform, board and we arrive Columbus Circle 10 minutes later.

Once in Midtown I begin to think that I may be able to make an on-time arrival if I can get coffee in five minutes and hail a cab. In the manner of an insane woman I dodge taxis and traffic across 58th Street into Starbucks. Keeping with my “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong" morning, it takes the barista what feels like an eternity to pour two coffees into the cups at the SLOWEST Starbucks E-V-E-R.

I hail a cab, give the driver the address and sink into the seat. Man this is a lot of work for a flea market date. I cannot believe fate is conspiring against me so early in the morning. The only thing that can go wrong is if we get hit by a bus. And I double-dog dare fate to piss me off now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

151. WHAT COMING FROM A “GOOD FAMILY" MEANS

As Town and Country continues talking about his family, I think about mine and this desi construct of what it means to come from a “good family”. Growing up my parents drilled into my brother and me that obedient children, “study hard, don’t talk back to elders or teachers because they have a superior place in your life, and marry someone from a good family.” Sandwiched between the Lutes and Swedes, Dad would tell us we’re related to Guru Nanak (founder of the Sikh religion) and that Punjabis were the best. At times I wondered, if we’re so great what are we doing living with people whose kids think I am Pocahontas commanding rain on demand through dance and are mean to me at school (see below). And why aren’t we going back in India where I could be the princess of Punjab?

But the thing about Dad was while he said things, he never explained them. So in the same way I learned about Hinduism, Christianity and prostitutes (piecemeal through eavesdropping on grown-ups and TV) I developed then applied this unscientific definition of a what a good boy from a good family would look like: (1) Indian --- Hindu or Sikh (2) never been married, widowed or divorced – his parents should not be divorced either (3) from a middle class family, highly educated, including the requisite graduate degree stamped on his forehead and (4) if possible, would come from our Khatri caste consisting of these families: Bedi, Chopra, Kapur, Khanna, Malhotra, Puri, Sahni, Sethi, Suri, and Talwar.

As you can imagine growing up in Minnesota with the Anderson, Johnson, Nelson, and Swenson families made marrying one of our Khatri peeps from Punjab challenging. So I spent most of groom-hunting time looking for a nice, educated, middle-class Hindu/Sikh boy. While my parents are traditional, they would NEVER be labeled conservative. So they NEVER mandated that I bring home one of Punjab’s finest. Subconsciously it was my preference for a VERY loooooong time.

And really, as far as Indian parents in America go, mine are pretty cool. While proud to be Punjabi they didn’t teach us hate (except for Pakistan) and my brother and I were spared details about the ugly side of the caste system. Which is why I was unprepared for the day in elementary school when some kid asked what caste I was from. I didn’t even know the name so I just said, “A high caste.” “Brahmin?” he asked. “No,” I replied. He made a face and said, “You’re not high caste if you’re not Brahmin. Don’t you know that?” How some freckled white boy made me feel small and insignificant baffles me now that I am armed with knowledge.

When I was old enough I self taught myself all things Indian including the caste system. I learned that Brahmins, while high caste, went on to be scholars and pandits who refrained from meat and alcohol. Oh the other hand, Khatris (one level down) were warriors and zameendhars (land owners) who clearly ate meat and drink. Quickly I got a-okay with my caste. But I think Dad’s belief that Punjabis are the best is a LOT of pressure for drunk, carnivorous warriors and landowners.

And if some of my relatives were really honest, they’d admit they haven’t let go of the ancient idea of aesthetics when it comes to match matching: beautiful daughters for handsome sons; fixed sons for unbroken daughters; and affluent daughters for ambitious sons. Just when I think this matrimonial stuff is crap and wonder what bullshit keeps the system in place, Hindu teachings come back to me. I was taught that daughters, while a joy and lakshmi, to cherished and protected, are also a burden and must be protected. This is why the gods do not bestow peace and prosperity on fathers, brothers, and sons whose daughters suffer or live in despair. The scriptures are particular about this. So of course, parents have a lot riding on the appropriate settlement of their children, especially their daughters.

In the time I have been lost in my thoughts, Town and Country has set his wine on the table and stares at me. Maybe he now wonders if I am dead since I have not said anything in 10 minutes (most likely a record). I clutch my glass like a security blanket. He leans in to kiss me. I let him, even though I know he’s not THE ONE. How can he be when he just told me he’s still in love with someone else?

“Look,” I whisper between kisses. “If this is just sex. You have to be honest with me. I can’t take any more heartbreak.” He sighs. His deep brown eyes seem darker. “This is New York. If I wanted sex I could get it anywhere. I don’t need you for it.”

In that moment he actually seems more vulnerable than me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

150. THE SEX GODDESS AND THE PRUDE

“Catch any mice today?” I joke. He laughs, “No!” “Will John be joining us again?” I ask. Suddenly his mood shifts to sullen and he shakes his head. “Think John was stoned last night?” I ask. Town and Country shrugs, and with indifference says, “It’s his thing.” Meanwhile I am fascinated that John would brazenly get laced and then stay with his boss. I rather admire him for that. Even at my age, I still need my parents’ acceptance and continue to do things they would never approve behind their backs. Nice to see that plump 14-year old with sideburns, braces and eye-glasses still lives inside of me. That freak has been following me around for years!

We go into the dining room and he grabs wine and glasses. On the sideboard I see his car registration. “Drive much?” I ask. “Not really. Just to see my folks. Most of the time it sits in the garage."

Upstairs we sink into the couch and he goes RADIO silent. I glance over to see if he’s breathing or dead. Because the quiet begins to LITERALLY kill my inner chatty Chaaya, I ask, “How long have you been on the matrimonial Website?” “Not long. You’re the first person I’ve met.” Sigh and ggrrr. This is NEVER a good sign. Recently joined people are in the experimental stage. And I understand the curiosity I was once like that. But I have been out there long enough to know I am ready to meet THE ONE and settle down.

If my cousin were here she’d remind me that I am unmarried because of my own choosing. That had I selected (read: settled) one of those B-grade-guys-who-was-more-into-me-than-I-he, I’d be married now and in time would grow to love him. Unlike her, I don’t think a husband is a plant; I cannot simply water him into love.

“I was seeing someone seriously but we broke up last month,” Town and Country shares. Okay, Desi Girl, this does not bode well for you either. At least, up-front I know I will be insignificant, nothing more than a time pass while he’s mourning her. And I am not insane or narcissistic enough to think I have what it takes for him to get over her. “I called her on my birthday and she took days to get back to me,” he says sadly.

I feel a little bad for him and clear my throat, “Look, I know women. Her delay in returning the call means she either needs space or is over you. I understand how awful that sounds, but a smitten woman calls you. Especially on your birthday. I know I’ve done it. And will do it again.” He looks at me and nods. “I know I’m withdrawn tonight. She never liked it when I was like this. This is actually the second break up.” Really? Now I have to play therapist? I sigh and say, “Please tell me you didn’t WAIT for her to come back to you.” “No I dated someone else. It didn’t last but the sex was great.”

Does he think we’re friends? Because I really don’t want to know about his sex with ANOTHER ex. And on the off chance I sleep with him, I, the prude, don’t need the pressure of wondering how I stack up against the sex goddess. When he changes topics and talks about his family, I feel relief and concentrate on S-L-O-W-L-Y sipping my wine.

To be cont.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

149. AM I DATING OUTSIDE OF MY LEAGUE?

We finish dinner and I reach for my wallet, I have no issue with splits or taking turns. But he is quicker on the draw and slaps down his super-sonic Platinum credit card, which outranks my piddly little Citibank Dividends card. Uhm, okay. He can pay.

“I have to work tonight, but would you like to have another drink?” he asks. This is a good sign. He’s busy but not ready to end the night. We pull on our parkas and brave the night chill. As a former Minnesotan, I don’t find 27 degrees Fahrenheit cold, but the wind is brutal, licking its frigid tongue against my cheeks, ears and down my neck. Aiy!

In silence we walk for blocks until he says, “Nothing seems to pop out. I have nice wine at home that does not cause hang-overs.” Tricky. Based on last night’s wardrobe malfunction, this may not be a good idea. And no, I am not opposed to having sex. In my 30s I have found comfort in my sexuality and I forgive my transgressions. But I won’t apologize for thinking I deserve more than a dinner to get me into bed.

And yes, there are times I wish I had past filled with meaningless liaisons, random hook-ups, sex in telephone booths, under desks or on dining room tables. But for some reason sex was more than a physical thing for me, without my consent an emotional bond formed. And after he had me, or didn’t want me anymore I’d feel a devastating awfulness. Leaving me feeling run over and incapable, wondering how to get over someone I got under. While my girlfriends disagree, I think sex is WAY more personal, intimate and destructive than a blow job.

Normally I don’t obsess about this on a second date. And there is the off chance he didn’t mean to expose himself. Which is why I must make my intentions clear, and say, “Well, one drink would be fine...I generally don’t drink that much on a first date. That was embarrassing…” We stop for the traffic light and he nods, looks a little sheepish and says, “Yes, well. I didn’t behave quite well either.”

Thank the strong and mighty goddess DURGA! He DOES remember. At least, he owns his fall from grace. When we reach his house he opens the half-gate. Was that here last night? It is a damn good thing he knows where he lives because I would never have found this place. Sometimes I seriously wonder how I’m alive considering the predicaments I willingly subject upon myself.

Once inside we shed our outerwear. He hangs my Eddie Bauer parka next to his Burberry jacket and says, “Yours is very nice and stylish.” Is he kidding me with this? He’s wearing a Rolex and I am wearing last season’s discounted, way-on-sale cashmere. The contrast in our brands and budgets is almost comical. Having sex or not having sex is now the least of my issues. It has become amazingly clear that my bigger problem is that I am dating WAY outside my league.

And this is a league I have no business in.

148. WHO ACTUALLY DATES THEIR FLASHER? DESI GIRL

Unlike last night, tonight I do not keep Town and Country waiting. When I get to Mint, Town and Country is sitting in the lobby, fiddling with his phone. He sees me, gets up, and pecks a light kiss on my lips.

Once we are seated I order a glass of wine. He has a blue fake-tini and tells me to try it. Vividly I remember last night’s wine exchange that drove me straight to Drunk Town, Population 2 – Town and Country and Desi Girl. Also I’m not a fan of “fake-tinis”. I am a real deal or bust kind of desi girl, no Canal Street Louis Vuitton for me. But this isn’t something you tell a man you’re trying to date. And Town and Country seems like someone who likes things done his way.

I am also relieved that Meera has not called about last night’s date. I don’t want to tell her that I was flashed, which has me wondering why I am here if I am not willing to come clean with my friends. Then again, he did ask me on this date before we got completely wasted. And I cannot determine if he even remembers doing it. Maybe he blacked out, which isn’t any better. Oof, this conversation I am having with myself is giving me a headache.

The waiter arrives and Town and Country orders for us, which I like. I have spent my entire life care taking for others, being a good friend, obedient daughter, caring sister, loving girlfriend. But it is exhausting to give and never receive. For a change it is REALLY nice to be taken care of.

“I know a great Thai place on the West Side,” I leave out the suggestive name, Yum Yum Bangkok. “We should go,” I suggest casually trying to gauge his mood. He is not chatty tonight and his interest in me seems to have vanished. If he finds my suggestion of future date too forward, he can bugger off. I am not that invested in him and don’t have anything to lose. “I can’t eat Chinese or Thai,” he replies. Okay what? Problem. I am a lover of udon noodles, dim sum, and spicy tuna rolls. No man is worth a life devoid of Chinatown.

I smile, nod politely and drink my wine. I am done trying to impress someone who is giving me the silent treatment when he asked me out! A few minutes later he says, “I was incredibly hung-over this morning.” Now I smirk. “And I blame you,” he teases. Well whatever was bothering him has ceased to matter. “I seem to recall you ordering…” I almost say fourth round. “…the last round then suggesting brandy. I think you might be to blame. But I am far too gracious to do such a thing,” I reply. “Yes…you are gracious aren’t you?” he asks.

Really? Does Mr.-Cold-then-Hot think he can flirt his way back into my good graces? Because I have no idea what to do with my guard, jack it way up and never let another man in? Or let go and fall in love with celibate monks and flashers. Wow, if these are the remaining desi choices I better get self-preserving. Or go back to dating white boys. A part of me momentarily feels empathy for Town and Country. He is dating all my emotional baggage and doesn’t even know it. Or maybe he knows and doesn't care. Ugh, I am re-giving myself a headache.

To be cont.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

147. A LITTLE MINT FOR MY FRIDAY NIGHT TOWN AND COUNTRY DATE

Ooo. Is that the alarm? Aiy. Not even Tylenol is going to kill the pain throbbing in my hair follicles and pulsing into my temples. When did my throat dry out like the Sahara? I wish I had aim so I could throw something at the clock to turn it off, but Sporty Spice I am not. Slowly I force myself to sit up and last night’s date comes back to me. I sink back into bed and close my eyes only to have an image of a penis flashing on and off in my head like a vacancy / no vacancy sign.

The alarm goes on for another minute and I finally get out of bed and lumber across the room to turn the blasted thing off before my head explodes from the deafening sound. I am never drinking again. I see my phone on the nightstand and scroll through last night’s text messages between Ainsley and me. Crud. I did NOT make up the Punjabi penis sighting.

It takes effort, but eventually I get out of bed. Who stole my tolerance? I used to be able to drink fraternity boys under the table (maybe not the sexiest detail about me, but it's true). I do not EVER remember being this hung over. Because my bones feel like they were replaced with lead, I move, slowly but surely, through my unusually rigorous routine of showering, dressing and coffee brewing. All of which occurs after I drink a gallon of water.

I finally sit down at my desk, make some calls and log into my email. There is an email waiting from Town and Country. He sent it over an hour ago. How the hell did someone who drank twice as much as I did get up so early? Maybe he’s a desi vampire.

Town and Country: Tonight: How about 7 pm at Mint? 150 East 50.
Desi Girl: Sounds good. Can I wear jeans?
Town and Country: Personally I like skirts, but jeans are of course fine. That’s what I’m wearing (jeans, not a skirt).

Okay, he’s funny in a way that appeals to me. And sure, while I’m interested in him, I never froze for men in Minnesota and I am not about to start in Manhattan. So jeans it is. Truth be told, despite of the penis incident, or maybe in spite of it (for future reference it is good to know what he’s got in his jockey shorts); my attraction to him is very primal. And I gotta be honest, while I have never limited myself to Punjabi men, I love that he is.

To be cont.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

146. THE TOWN AND COUNTRY DATE - Part 5

We listen to music until I feel sleepy. “I should go. Will you help me hail a cab?” I ask. Town and Country gets up and grabs his phone. “I’ll call you a car. I have a service…” (of course he does) “…I don’t want you alone in a taxi this late at night.” He dials and adjusts the music.

Feeling confident that the two hours I spent in the drawing room have sobered me up some, I stand and try to move past him. He catches my arm and I stop. He has warm brown eyes, smooth and velvety, like his voice. At some point this evening he removed his tie and jacket. Now he looks absolutely yummy in his white button-down and dress pants. He wraps one arm my waist, keeps the phone in place with his ear, and tries to look down my shirt.

I lightly push him away. “I’m not that kind of girl. Plus, we’ll have to go on at least five dates before I even CONSIDER sleeping with you.” I am deeply relieved that he finds me physically attractive. After five months of dating desi duds and Reindeer, the celibate monk, I am reaffirmed. Town and Country laughs. And sure, I get it, I’m a prude not a nun, men want sex. But I’d like to believe that men respect women who respect themselves. As Town and Country gives directions to the service I walk over to the built in bookshelf and review his selection of vintage books. When he finishes his call, he comes over to me and I glance at him, “Nice collection.”


And just like that we are two uncontrollable forces, jacked up on booze and attraction, colliding into one another. Like wild, unbridled people we are kissing like crazy. For minutes, we don’t need air to sustain us, only lust.

We draw away and head downstairs. We get into the middle of the foyer and again we’re mad kissing like we're on fire. Somehow (probably because we know the car is coming) we part again. As I turn for my jacket, he unzips his pants and it is hello penis!!! While I should perhaps feel horror that he has unleashed himself, I am delighted that he dispels last summer’s BBC article that stated Indian men have small penises. Then again, maybe this is British backlash against India for their fight for freedom.

“What are you doing?” I ask matter-of-factly. He shrugs. Very calmly, though I know I should find this alarming, I say in the manner of a flight attendant. “You need to stow your penis.” Now he seems boyishly amused and says, “You do it.” I tilt my head; give him a slightly bored look and say, “No.” I turn around and reach for my jacket.

Okay. I am drunk. He is drunk. Our inhibitions are gone and we are both clearly fucked up. Another reason why I never did drugs. And I am really tired, is it possible that I imagined his penis. But, if I didn't, does he do this often? And if so, do women really drop to their knees and service him? When I turn around (with my parka zipped up to my chin) there is no sight of his penis. So now I am thinking my overly active imagination is playing tricks on me. This is why I have the two drinks (maximum) per date rule. Nothing good ever happens after Drink Three.

He escorts me from the house and settles me into the car. The driver gives him something to sign; he does, kisses me good night and says, “See you tomorrow.”

Uhm, okay.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

145. THE TOWN AND COUNTRY DATE - Part 4

A man who wears a fantastic cologne could almost get me to rob a bank. Sitting this close to Town and Country I don’t smell a signature scent but it’s okay. I like him enough to almost, almost, almost rob a bank. I shift to face him and ask, “Where did you get all this stuff?” “Antique stores, flea markets, my travels,” Town and Country replies.

Purchasing used things is something I cannot do. And it has everything to do with being my mother’s child. Growing up I wasn’t allowed to borrow clothes or books from friends. It wasn’t simply that I should be content with what I had. It was because my parents were kids during the Partition of India and Pakistan. And they lived through a time in India’s history where 12 million people were displaced and over a 1 million died as Hindus and Muslims killed each other.

Whenever I acted like a bratty American kid (which was often) my mother would tell me how tough life in post-Indian independence was. My maternal grandmother got up at 5:00 am to walk miles to the Old Delhi Railway Station and retrieve left over coal from the train tracks for the days’ cooking. My grandmother often told my mother and her siblings she was fasting for this festival or that festival so her four children didn’t go hungry. To get food on the table, my grandmother endured long waits in ration lines. So my mother most certainly never shared her two pairs of shoes or her two salwar kameezes (Indian tunic and pants). America, for my parents, symbolized the life they had desired from a far. And in this new life there were no hand-me-downs, garage sale items or antiques.

“I thought I heard voices,” a man says. Town and Country and I look over and see the co-worker enter the room. Town and Country makes introductions, “Desi Girl, this is John. John, Desi Girl.” “Nice to meet you,” I reply. Normally I would get up and shake his hand. Except I currently don’t trust my balance.

Immediately Town and Country pours John a plum brandy and the three of us chat about politics, sports and art. It is a fun and engaging conversation during which time the boys drink ALL the plum brandy. My glass is full and they are fortunately too drunk to notice. Town and Country gets up and leaves the room. John and I begin talking about Hong Kong’s handover in 1997, which segues into Singapore’s tough laws and military service requirements.

Town and Country returns with beer. Man these guys can drink! And wait a minute, who I am to judge. “So what do you do for work?” John asks. For some reason, I playfully say to a drunken man, “Guess.” Clearly it never occurs to me how dangerous this scene could become – alone in a big, old house where I am sure the neighbors cannot hear anything through the heavy stone walls. This date could be a scam to lure a woman into a compromising position, or worse, death.

“Lawyer!” John says. This is heartbreaking to hear. My lady lawyer friends in the City tell me men fear female attorneys. “Really? Do I give off some bitchy vibe?” Because that is NOT what I do." John laughs, “No, not bitchy. Especially not in those come-to-papa-boots! You seem overly-educated.” Is that a compliment? Or an insult? “Man I’m tired and we have a long day tomorrow. I’m off to bed,” John says and leaves.

With that, Town and Country and I are truly and completely alone for the first time since meeting one another six hours ago.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

144. THE TOWN AND COUNTRY DATE – Part 3

Somehow we get from the restaurant, into a cab and to Town and Country’s house. Walking, which I have been doing since I was 11 months old, is taking ALL of my effort and concentration because I have entered drunk consciousness. It’s that state of being where you are so intoxicated that you really should not function. Yet, you have the innate fight or flight ability to focus on ONE thing, like staying awake on the subway, standing upright for 10 minutes, or pretending someone is interesting.

For some reason Town and Country is still functioning, perhaps being taller and outweighing me by 45 pounds helps. As he unlocks the door he shares that a famous couple lives down the street. Maybe I would find this more interesting if I hadn’t walked by Al Roker on the street, sat on the steps of Sarah Jessica Parker’s brownstone or seen Kyra Sedgwick in the Village.

Once inside, he points to the fireplace and says, “Do you think there is a way to make better use of the foyer?” Okay buddy, I can barely handle walking. I cannot currently offer architectural expertise. Ask me tomorrow.

Interestingly, I am lucid enough to notice that A LOT of knick-knacks decorate his house. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. As a fellow collector, I have vases, framed photos, books, trinkets and faux objet-de-arts filling my bookshelves and lining the window ledges. But I am no match for this man.

Town and Country has an antique coat rack in the corner, framed landscape portraits on the walls, and a collection of clocks, vases and plates along the fireplace mantle. The dining room has a china cabinet, buffet and beautiful table in the center with his papers and laptop sprawled across it. None of the pieces match, but the woods blend together in an eclectic fashion. There is a gigantic vase of dried flowers on the buffet. The dining room walls house more oil paintings and along the floor are mousetraps. Despite the fact that vermin fill NYC (Rohit and Meera had a mouse in their house, Jack is a on a perpetual quest to eradicate roaches from the apartment and families of rats live in dumpsters), I still react with, “Eek!”

“I see you found the mouse traps,” Town and Country says and laughs. “I don’t keep any food in there anymore. Nor do I cook.” “So you eat out often?” I ask. “Yes. Would you like to join me for dinner tomorrow night?” Second date? Two nights in a row? With someone I actually like? Uhm, yes please! “Sure,” I reply. “Good,” he says and smirks. He flips on the kitchen light, wraps his hands around my biceps and fake pushes me into the kitchen. I yelp and he draws me back. “Just kidding. Come look outside,” he says and opens the patio doors to a beautiful midnight garden. “This is amazing,” I whisper. “I don’t use it much,” he shares.

He gives me a tour of the house --- sitting rooms, an unused office, and bedrooms. We retire to the drawing room, which like the foyer is adorned with books and ornaments. Where does a busy man, with no wife (I am guessing since we met on a matrimonial site) have time to buy and display all these trinkets? If he ever moves, I have empathy for the movers who will have to box up all this stuff!

He pours two glasses of plum brandy and sits down next to me. I take a small sip and find it REALLY sweet, drinkable, but set it aside. My new plan is to sober up! 


Monday, July 12, 2010

143. THE TOWN AND COUNTRY DATE - Part 2

Considering I have not eaten in nine hours, just drank two glasses of wine in 45 minutes and am walking around an unfamiliar part of Manhattan in 3” heels, I handle myself amazingly very well. We land up at a rustic steak house a few blocks from the bar. Because it’s night and my mind is in a fuzzy state of wine, I know, I will NEVER find this place again. Despite majoring in architecture, my buzz has softened my senses and the interior details are a blur. But it feels like we're in a bucolic lodge, dark and smoky, without actually smelling like smoke.   


We sit down and Town and Country orders a merlot for himself and a cabernet for me. I wonder if he’s an alcoholic or if becoming a businessman has taught him to drink like an aging frat boy. The wine comes, we clink glasses, and sip. Then he says, “Try mine,” and we exchange drinks. A few minutes later the waiter comes with bread (yippee, something to soak up the wine). Clearly Town and Country is a regular because EVERYONE knows him.

We order dinner, steak for him and lamb for me. He insists that we share the glazed carrots, as they are divine. Who am I to argue? Then I quietly convince myself, as soon as the food comes, my sobriety will return.

Town and Country continues chatting about himself. I had no idea an emailer/texter would also be talkative, which my inner chatty Chaaya quite likes! Our food arrives and he orders a FOURTH round. He leaves me no choice, and I FINALLY protest, “Please, no more!” “Why not?” he asks. I glare at him half incredulous, half embarrassed and say, “Uhm, because it is in REALLY bad form to get drunk on a first date and I am pretty much there.” And trust me, if there was the REMOTE chance I thought I could FAKE sober, I would have. Telling him the truth is KILLING me.

“Where do you need to go?” Town and Country asks. “Eventually I need to hail a cab home,” I reply dryly. “I can do that for you,” he insists and the fourth round is ordered. Because I am officially drunk I begin blathering in a sorority-girl-sing-song-happy-drunk-voice and babble about my writing aspirations. He then says, “Why not self-publish? I helped my cousin." Lucky cousin of Town and Country. I have rich relatives on both sides of my family, but they don’t give a crap about me. Which is fine. I am beginning to not give a crap about them.

“Ooooo, nooooo!” I finally say and drag my “o”s in the manner of a Minnesotan. “My agent says it’s not favorable in the industry and I don’t want to be gauche out of the gate,” I reply, praying I sound somewhat intelligent and my slurring is under control. He laughs and says, “You’re cute.” OKAY!!!! No one over the age of five should be described as cute. And not on a date. I want to be attractive, vivacious, alluring, and mysterious.

“Cute? Like a poodle?” I ask, a little flirty, a little displeased and pick up my wine glass. He seems amused that I don’t appreciate his compliment. “You’re sweet,” he redirects. “Sweet? Like a gumdrop? Nice,” I reply. I have suddenly developed an attitude and he appears to like it. “There is nothing wrong with cute and sweet. But I can tell, you are good,” he states before pulling his phone out of his pocket. “Sorry. I have to take this. My co-worker is in town and staying with me. And I need to let him into the house.”

We finish eating and Town and Country says, “John is waiting for me. Any interest in going back with me and letting him in? I have plum brandy at home.” Yes, because what this date needs is MORE alcohol. Since my inhibitions are on vacation, and I don’t get the serial killer vibe from him, I agree to part three of our night.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

142. THE TOWN AND COUNTRY DATE - Part 1

“Be late!” says the sms message from Meera. Her wish is granted because I cannot readily locate the bar. Normally I am great with directions, but tonight a H-U-G-E sign saying, “Enter here Desi Girl” would have helped.

I fluff my hair and enter. Immediately I see Town and Country to my left, but I pretend I’ve missed him and turn to my right. I can feel his eyes boring into my back, and take my time surveying the room. I turn and find him walking towards me. He stops and I smile. “Hello, Town and Country, nice to meet you. I think I’m a little late," I say warmly. Six minutes to be exact. He tries to peck my cheek and I try to hug him. Awkward. Then he says, “Yes, you are late.” Okay. Wow. He noticed and called me on it. I'd love to meet someone who lets me run, but knows when to reign me back.

“Let’s sit on the other side,” Town and Country suggests. I follow him to a dark and sexy lounge filled with men in suits and pretty, hipsters drinking wine and fake-tinis (vodka-based-cocktails-so-I-can-be-cool-and-drink-from-a-martini-glass). The hipsters are so Dolce and Gabbana fabu that I feel bookish in my Mall of America clothes.

Town and Country finds a sofa and we sit down. Because I am 5’-2-¾” I cannot sit all the way back in the deep couches because my feet won’t touch the floor. So I perch on the edge and the pose works to my advantage. My body language seems more engaged than I really am. He removes his winter coat and reveals his European styled suit. He is tied with the Banker for the best first date outfit. And I don’t know what Town and Country was worrying about. Not hitting the gym is not hurting him.

He orders two glasses of wine, one for him and one for me. Because I want him to like me, I keep reminding myself to stop talking. It takes about five minutes but he takes over the entire conversation. In a low, pleasant Indo-American-Brit voice (swoon) Town and Country shares his upbringing, coming to the US, and schooling. Ten minutes later he finishes his wine (how he drank and talked is beyond me. I still have half a glass).

On cue, the waitress-nymph (large breasted, big curls, low neck line and super short tight skirt) returns to take his drink order. He almost orders for me but eyes my glass. “Would you like another?” he asks. Hhhmm, this is not a double-fisted kind of place. And I have a two-drink minimum per date. It is so easy in New York to have four drinks and not notice. But sobriety is very important when dating random Internet desi men.

With a sweet smile I say, “It would be rude to make you drink alone, yes?” “It would,” Town and Country replies in his lovely liquid chocolate voice. OMFG. He is almost so perfect, in a suit, physically attractive, with a voice I could get lost in, educated, Punjabi conversationalist. Evidently he’s well-to-do, not a requirement. So what more could a woman want? Oh yes, there is the small matter of, he doesn’t seem interested in me.

During the second glass, he continues talking; only now we’re sitting closer. Despite being loopy (not good) I smell wine on his breath and presume the date must be close to completion. I spend the next few minutes waiting for him to say, “Nice to meet you. I have an early meeting. Can I hail you a cab?” (He strikes me as someone who would hail a woman’s taxi, which is good because in the 13 months I have lived in the City, I have never hailed a cab). Instead he surprises me with, “Have you had dinner?”

What? He wants to spend MORE time with me? Did I read him wrong? Or has dating in Manhattan made me a jaded cynic. “Not yet,” I reply. “I know a place around the corner,” Town and Country suggests. “Interested?” YES!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

141. TERRIBLE TIMING FOR A NAIL 911

Oh I simply do NOT believe this. As if I don't have ENOUGH pre-date problems and just before I ready for my Town and Country date, the nail on my right index finger begins to lift. This stinks because one, unkept nails (on my hands) is my self-pet peeve. And two, just last week I paid $70, yes $70, for my once a month french manicure that is falling apart. Before my date? Does God hate me?

My manicure is a tish high maintenance (I know, shocking) and involves the application of six layers of liquid gel painted onto my fingernails and then dried under a UV lamp. This 90 minute process makes my nails very pretty and almost indestructible. And in general, the manicure lasts three weeks, but mine have gone as long as five weeks (not recommended). Can I confess? Sometimes I find getting my nails done to be burdensome. But over time my nails have became part of my signature look and even if no one cares about them, I feel a little pressure to keep up appearances. Though, I know, the day I stop getting my nails done means my discretionary dollars have dwindled and hard times are upon me.

A light sweat breaks across my back. The reality is I don’t have enough time to get into the salon to get my nail fixed before my Town and Country date. What to do? Because it is not possible to be perfect and woo him with a chipped nail. Quick, quick, think, think of a temporary MacGyver fix! A drop of crazy glue would be ideal -- if I had any lying around the apartment. Then I remember my tools. And that salvation can come in a tube. Silicone.



Last month while I was showering, the shower head developed a small crack and sprayed water ALL over the bathroom walls and floor. Unbeknownst to me, it drenched the floor mat. So when I stepped out of the shower and into 1/2 inch of water I just about broke my neck. Had you seen my loo that day, you’d think Noah was coming with his Ark. Who knew you could almost flood a Manhattan bathroom in 20 minutes?

After that death defying moment, I dried my hair (it was January) and raced out to buy solvent to seal the leak. If silicone can fix indoor plumbing let's see if I can seal my nail back to date ready! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

140. NOTHING LIKE SOME PRE-DATE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING AND PANICKING


Thursday morning I return from Starbucks, petrified and excited for my date. While my wit has kept him enticed for days, what if he finds me physically unattractive. As a result I feel enormous pressure to be so fabulous that he has no choice but to marry me and end this exhausting dating phase of my life.
Unfortunately for me, one of two situations arise when I happen upon someone I find desirable. Either I try too hard, or I ignore my interest like he has Ebola and act like his dull friend is the most FASCINATING man EVER! I have also found that when I am aloof with men, they want me more than a sports car. This becomes disastrous because the aloofly man treated increases his persistence, breaks me down, dates the hell of out me, makes me fall in love with him, and then dumps me. Citing his eternal love for his fiancĂ©e who died eight years ago. Not wanting to focus on the unfixable past, I decide to email Town and Country.
DESI GIRL: How do you feel about deception? While it looks sunny and warm outside, it is colder than sin! I'll have to don my down parka this evening!

TOWN AND COUNTRY: I was out at 6:00 am and know. What else are you wearing tonight? (After my ODDB run-ins (Posts 17  & 16), I’m worried his clothing comment is pervy. From his photo, Town and Country doesn’t look like an S&M freak. But who knew Ted Bundy was a serial killer until it was too late).
ME: Undecided. What are you wearing? (This is an UNABASHED lie. As soon as we confirmed the date I knew I’d wear my last supper with Reindeer outfit --- black pants, white tank top, pale green cashmere sweater and tall boots. I know I look stunning in this dressy but casual outfit that subdues my personality. Meera would be SOOOO proud of me.) 


TOWN AND COUNTRY: Hoping jeans, probably suit. Coming from a meeting. (He then name-drops and shares WAY too much private information about the meeting financials. I hope he’s not insecure, I am ready for him to be perfect Mr. Right!)
DESI GIRL: Cool to meeting casual or corporate you. Think your meeting will run late?
TOWN AND COUNTRY: If it does I will leave. I try to control evening meetings, letting them run late becomes a bad habit. You look like three different people in your pictures – wondering whom I will meet!
DESI GIRL: (Ah, so he again looked at my profile).
TOWN AND COUNTRY: How do you get downtown? Train?


DESI GIRL: Yes.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Are you up for meeting at the house for a drink instead? (This is when EVERYTHING comes to a grinding metal-on-metal train wreck halt. If I say, no, I sound like a prude, which I am. But more than that, I’d have to be two French fries short of a happy meal to meet Internet Man at his house. Serial rapist or kidnapper anyone? Maybe men don’t think about safety the way women do. And this has me wondering if something in my profile says “whore”. Since I am paralyzed in the molasses of my thoughts, I email Rohit, Meera and Ainsley Ayers for advice).
DESI GIRL: Rohit, Meera and Ainsley: PROBLEM!!! (Who doesn’t love an email with PROBLEM!!! in the subject line). Was supposed to meet my date at a bar. Now he has invited me to his house. What to do? Must get back to bar! HELP!!!
Within 30 seconds Ainsley calls. “Did you get my email?” I gasp. “Uhm, yea, and hi, you absolutely CANNOT go to his place. What if he kills you?”
Ainsley demands. “Well that and rape are my top two concerns too,” I reply and continue. “So I must elegantly save face.” “What have your conversations been like?” Ainsley asks. “Well we’ve never spoken, just emailed.” Ainsley sighs in relief, “Even better. You are hilarious so write something funny…Oh and send me his phone number, email and photo…just in case you go missing and I have to lead the search to find you. And call me when you get home! No matter how late!” I agree and we hang up. Maybe this seems a little crazed-estrogen-induced hysteria. But this is New York where people steal cabs right in front of you and you never unexpectedly open the door even if they claim to be from Con Ed, Fresh Direct or UPS. That is how nice girls from the Midwest end up desi dead in dumpsters. 
Five seconds later ROHIT emails: Talked to my co-worker Kelly. We both say neutral place. I know Meera will agree. (Excellent, all members of urban family agree).
Just then inspiration jolts through me and I feel potent enough to run for President. I EMAIL: Are you sure you should invite me over? What if I steal the paintings from the walls? I think we should meet in a public place to assess. Thoughts?
TOWN AND COUNTRY: Well, you’re not Sindhi, but you make a good point. (I am sure I have mentioned this before, but each Indian state has a stereotype associated with them. Punjabis are fierce, loud, drunk, carnivorous partiers who drown themselves in blinding bling. Whereas Sindhis, Gujuratis and a few others are notoriously shrewd). Looking forward to seeing you tonight!
SWOON!!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

139. AND THE EMAILING CONTINUES INTO WEDNESDAY

The next morning I find an email from Town and Country that includes his photo:

TOWN AND COUNTRY: What area code is 612? Here is my photo.

DESI GIRL: Minneapolis. (Again doesn’t he have an assistant or an iPhone app to figure out the area code? And MAN he looks STERN in his photo, almost intimidating, yet when he writes he sounds down to earth, normal and real).

TOWN AND COUNTRY: But your not from Minnesota are you? (There is something so overpowering about him, that despite never meeting, I am already almost smitten and again, I let the typo go).

DESI GIRL: Yes. Dad moved there in 1967 because he thought snow would be fun ... I'll leave the image of Punjabis in the snow to you. I moved here 14 months ago.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Do you speak Punjabi? Why move to NYC? 



DESI GIRL: My Punjabi is very bad. Are you fluent? We're actually Punjus from Delhi making my Hindi better, but I insert the English word when I blank on the Hindi. I didn’t speak English until I was 3. My desire to become a writer brought me to NYC. (Unlike with Reindeer, I am at ease with Town and Country and feel certain that his inner entrepreneur will appreciate my quest for book deal).

TOWN AND COUNTRY: You mentioned yoga – ever tried it? My stretcher suggested yoga to loosen my muscles. (What the F***? is  a stretcher? Does he pay someone to come to his house and stretch him?). 



DESI GIRL: Actually I didn't mention yoga ... (S'nice, has he confused me with the OTHER girl he is emailing?)

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Sorry – I meant in your profile on the matrimonial website. (Oh what a refreshing and interesting change, clearly he has read or re-read my profile, again).

DESI GIRL: (Phew). I was wondering if you knew my secrets including who I plan to vote for in November.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: You’re either voting for Barack or HRC. It says something who you pick among the two.

DESI GIRL: Tell me why you think I am a democrat? Then I'll share my politics, something that I don't generally do with date-able men.


TOWN AND COUNTRY: Nothing specific, just the sense I get from you. What makes me date-able? 


DESI GIRL: Uhm, the fact that we have a date tomorrow makes you date-able.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Funny! I enjoy your wit. What are you doing tonight?



DESI GIRL: Movies with friends. And you?

TOWN AND COUNTRY: No plans, just wondering if you were free.



DESI GIRL: I am not a movie buff, it takes effort for me to go. (Why am I explaining myself to a stranger from the Internet no less?)



TOWN AND COUNTRY: I wasn’t suggesting that you skip, you should go. Thought I'd ask in case you didn’t have plans. (Okay dude, I wouldn't cancel my plans for you. Is this a sign? Does he think the world revolves around him?)

DESI GIRL: (Ugh. Be nice!) It just struck me that the last movie I saw was Darjeeling Limited.



TOWN AND COUNTRY: I saw it on my way to Europe. Did you like it?



DESI GIRL: Yep. It was humorous, heartwarming and unpredictable.



TOWN AND COUNTRY: The way you describe the movie tells me a lot about you. (This is where I should have asked him to elaborate and done a better job at accepting a compliment). I just got my Macbook Air.



DESI GIRL: It is SO light!  



TOWN AND COUNTRY: It’s nice, but I don’t get carried away with gadgets. Watches, briefcases, suits, etc., are more interesting. (Yet he needs to share his latest toy and that he can afford to shop. From his profile there was no inkling of his monetary success. Why does he do this? I liked him for his substance, this claim to cash is off-putting. Still … despite never speaking or hearing his voice, I like him and look forward to tomorrow's date). 

Monday, July 5, 2010

138. EMAILING THE DAY AWAY …

The next day I get an email from Town and Country - (Post 137)  accepts and we begin pinging one another with short emails. 

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Are you free Thursday? I am in St. Louis now for meetings, getting board.

DESI GIRL: St. Louis is the home of my alma mater. Thursday sounds great. Were you in a meeting being bored or board meeting? Hope your day is going well. (Sidebar: I have issues with typos and am worried that he doesn’t know the difference between board and bored. And I need him to be perfect).

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Day is going well. Meetings all day yesterday and today. A few more and we leave. Just got an iPhone. If you don’t know anything about technology I could impress or bore you. I used to come to Missouri for work, though my memories are surely different than yours. What’s the weather like in NYC?

DESI GIRL: I just got an iPod nano two weeks ago. I think about getting a Blackberry when my contract is over. And yes my memories are different, and include building models and cutting my fingers with X-acto knives! P.S. we have some rain, no snow yet. (Doesn’t he have an iPhone app or assistant to tell him the weather conditions?)

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Thanks! You can help me on some issues I’m having with my house. (I think he shares too much, more than I ever would about my work and he assumes that I’m good at design. Then again, maybe it would be nice to meet an un-cynical man in Manhattan).

DESI GIRL: Sure we can talk architecture, happy to help. Do you have any sketches?

TOWN AND COUNTRY (several hours later): Just landed. Delay of one hour. Don't really have plans. House was built in the 1800s. Needs some work but it is fine for me for now -- I have some gen y cousins who feel entitled and would disagree. (He actually tells me which NYC block he lives on and I am leaving that out of the blog. I find this bit of information dangerous, what if I was a stalker or a Bellevue escapee? Or writing a blog ... he is waaaaaay to trusting!)

DESI GIRL: Gen y ... I understand. I was watching 60 Minutes and 27 year olds were telling the interviewer the way "it is" and how they expect business to change and adhere to their needs ... what?! Glad to have some fuddy duddy company. Kitchens are tricky but it is amazing how much underutilized space lurks.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: I saw that episode, too. I can be old fashioned in some ways.

DESI GIRL: I’m old fashioned too. (Read: I'm a prude with a 5-dates-before-sex-rule. I also have a "no more than 2 drinks on a date rule"). I have a DVD/VHS combo unit, don't judge me.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: I won’t. Where in the city do you live?

DESI GIRL: Hudson Heights about 10 blocks from Fort Tryon Park. Cannot complain about the views of sunsets over the Hudson and Palisades State Park.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: I know the area! Along 138th Street between 7th and 8th is one of the most beautiful blocks in the city. VHS when was the last time you used it? And are you an 80s or 90s girl? Or maybe I should see what’s on your nano.

DESI GIRL: In 2002 I watched Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Not telling you what's on my nano.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: I haven’t seen a VHS in 20 years - I’m very curious to meet you.

DESI GIRL: Ha! Curious to meet me b/c I watched a VHS in the 21st Century? or that I just got my iPod?

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Curious, because I’m enjoying the email exchange.

DESI GIRL: I meant to log off earlier but I am enjoying this too -- humor, brilliance, conversation are attractive qualities and surprisingly hard to find.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: I didn’t mean to keep you. I sleep late and get up early to meet with my trainer, but I’ve been traveling for work, so not much training going on, the results of too many dinners you will see. 

DESI GIRL: It's winter and sometimes life takes us by surprise and storm and you fall off the treadmill. Just get back on. It will be fine when Spring starts in 24 days.

TOWN AND COUNTRY: How do you know Spring is in 24 days? Are you one of those people who knows a lot of “stuff”? In agreement on working out, something is better than nothing. But traveling and meetings are more mentally draining than physically.

DESI GIRL: The Equinox is coming according to my calendar. And I'm a bit of a news junkie so I know some "stuff" --- it's random and eclectic --- but certainly I don't know everything!

TOWN AND COUNTRY: Send me your number. Good night!

DESI GIRL: Sure thing, let’s exchange photos too!

Wow, I find him so attractive, I actually don't care about photos as long as he isn't twice my weight. I pray nothing goes wrong between now and the date! Come on luck shine your favorable gaze upon me!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

137. AFTER THE DARKNESS IS THIS THE LIGHT

I assume the standard position, sitting cross-legged in my chair, facing the computer in yoga pants, hair piled in a makeshift bun and cup of coffee in hand. My two week hiatus from desi dating is over and today I am using the function that allows me to see who looked at my profile.

Perhaps a better strategy is to contact men who have looked at my profile rather than blindly chance it on men and their writing skills (let’s not forget how that backfired with Quan Jock (Posts 132,  129,   128) . These are the last ten men to review my profile: caliboy, jai_singh, patelbond, yrluvaboy, desibbondboy, raj007, drench, boy4u, indiasbest, and nyc2dc4u. Wow, out of 1 billion desis “indiasbest” sure is confident! And can someone explain the obsession desi men have with James Bond?

The tenth reviewer, has the least insidious sounding profile id (shall be called Town and Country) and writes: I’m 38, Punjabi, been in the US for over 20 years, 5’-10”, athletic build and wheatish complexion … (again what the hell color is that?! can some desi matchmaking auntie in the G.I.N. – Great Indian Network – explain this?). Every time I read this, it strikes me as nonsense. If your family is from Kashmir you are going to basically be white and if you’re from Tamil Nadu you aren’t. This results in the North Indians and South Indians having different ideas about complexion gradations. Meera and I laugh about this now, but in college she didn’t think I was Indian until we were introduced and she heard my desi name.

The weight thing is also misleading. I used to refer to myself as average from the choices of slim, athletic, average and heavy. But the Banker told me he meets women who claim to be thin and are chunkier than me. He suggested I change my weight classification from average to athletic. And immediately I did.

He continues with: I am the youngest sibling, reliable, passionate, ambitious, and hardworking but not a workaholic. I'm a serial entrepreneur. There isn’t much I haven’t done and the things I don’t have will come in time. I am grounded and accept defeats as part of life. I am generous, fun, proud of who I am where and where I am going. From a flea market to a black-tie, I ease in and out situations. Give a shout out if this sounds interesting. Otherwise wishing you success in your search.

Okay. It’s official even with no photo, he sounds lovely. It is possible that my reprieve from the darkness is over and here comes the techbalconyc light? For a change I don’t feel like a moth torched by the burn of a flame. Perhaps the planets were waiting for my planets to align with his. So I hit the “express interest” button in the event he wishes to communicate with me.

And then I do something I am not good at. I wait.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

136. DESI GIRL GOES TO CHURCH (YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY)

Don’t tell my mother or cousin, but I have decided, for the sake of my sanity, to STOP groom hunting this week. I know, a little reckless for a woman “my age” with an unused uterus. However to avoid the spontaneous combustion of Desi Girl, I must find new ways to amuse myself. Good thing I Iive in Manhattan where the entire City is an awaiting urban playground.

Luckily volunteering has introduced me to new girlfriends whose company makes the single life tolerable. The Banker and I have taken to exploring SoHo and land up at  Muji OMG. Japanese stationary and gifts anyone? Yes please and more! Rohit and Meera host a Super Bowl party (Giants-Patriots). And Ainsley and I, unhappy with the current course of our lives, attend a seminar, “A New Year, A New You,” and based on our interests, we create passion maps.

On Valentine’s Day, I attend a Lonely Hearts soiree and indulge on $15 drinks at the W and then dine on kati rolls (paneer, chicken, or lamb rolled in a naan: think super yummy Indian burrito). I meet another woman volunteering, Siobhan, and we dine to assuage the Sunday night blues. In Siobhan I find a woman, my age, who gets me and my issues, except hers are Irish. And for the first time in my life, I attend Church with some friends. 

To be honest, as I sit in the pew, I feel VERY uncomfortable. I hope a scarlet “H” for Hindu doesn’t magically appear on my forehead and alert the Christian cops that an outsider is present. Okay, must stop with the conspiracy theories. To put myself at ease I spend several minutes silently admiring my neighbor’s brown cashmere sweater. Would my mother (the devout Hindu) be upset to learn I am here? When I was 12 I told her I wanted to be Christian, to better fit into Minnesota, and man did I get a scolding!

As the choir sings I find it remarkable that Christians and Hindus invoke God through song. When the minister begins preaching my mind fills with thoughts of gays and the sex scandals of priests. What is wrong with me?!

Today’s service is about Job, a biblical passage I know nothing about. “Scholars find this passage to be one of the most literary passages in the Bible,” the minister begins and then speaks of Job’s pious nature, 10 children, possessions and wife. “Job had it all,” the minister shares. “But due to a series of events that included Satan taking and burning Job’s possessions and killing his children, he loses it all.” YIKES! Satan is one seriously bad dude.

“During despair, Job’s wife begs him to curse God. But Job does not. His friends make assertions that Job is suffering because he is a sinner. Again, Job does not curse God. In fact, Job believes what God gives, God can take. Of course Job wonders how this has happened to him, but he still accepts his suffering. And he suffers until one day God comes to Job, and instead of explaining the suffering, God asks Job, ‘you were not here when I created the world, right’?” the minister pauses, letting the words waft across the room. “The lesson here is, like Job's suffering, the rest of us were not meant to understand God’s plan.”

Suddenly I become shell shocked as the minister’s words resonate with me. Maybe I don’t need to understand why I suffer. I mean yes I am healthy and have a home. But I am human and feel pain and anguish.

I find life to challenge me some days and rattle my faith on others. Not just in the men I gravitate towards, but the friends I allow to mistreat me. Sometimes I curse the choices I made and the careers I didn’t follow. But all of that wallowing in the past and berating my imperfections impedes me. And my inner control freak is not helping either. Like Job, I must accept that only God knows my plan and tomorrow I should wake up and embrace the life I came to Manhattan to have.

And in time, I know after I face the darkness, there is only light.