Thursday, July 29, 2010


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.


Catherine Golden said...


101 Bad Desi Dates said...

Dear Catherine, it is amazing what one can endure emotionally and still find some way to stand up.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know... I am SO sorry you went through that. And if I wasn't there for you (if I could have been). Clearly this anonymous person is someone who knows and cares about you :) Hinduism is not an easy philosophy to follow. And sometimes it is taken to an extreme, as is expected by parents (but clearly not delivered... just to keep my sanity!) You are truly a strong woman, whom I admire. GO DESI GIRL!

101 Bad Desi Dates said...

Dear Anonymous ... thanks and clearly you are someone who cares, though I cannot figure out who you are! So you can be my champion and not tell me, I am cool with that.

Hinduism ... yes it can challenge one sometimes, and I appreciate the validation in my questioning and faith rocking moments. More to come. xo Desi Girl