Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The waitress arrives with a pot of jasmine tea. She fills stoneware cups and pulls out a pen and pad to jot down our order. “Anything else to drink?” she asks. “Is the tea free?” Virat asks. Stunned, I look up from the menu. Who asks such a question? Is he cheap? How much can tea possibly cost? Visibly irritated, the waitress nods. “Then I’ll also have a pineapple juice,” Virat announces like he’s the first person to order a fruit drink.

Hhhmm, he seems a little wacky, which was not evident from his profile. I am debating if I should order an adult beverage (read: something consisting mostly of vodka) or a diet soda. I am beginning to fear that this will be a long and grueling night. Then again, what if he is simply nervous and will eventually chill the fuck out. So I give him a second chance.

I also decide to be “good” and order a Diet Coke with lime and return to reviewing the menu. Pad Thai, Pad See Ew, green curry, red curry, coconut curry. After Punjabi, Thai, along with Mexican, are my favorite cuisines. I grew up eating food spiced with coriander, chilies, cumin, turmeric, and paprika. My food doesn’t have to be five-alarm fire hot, but it must be a party for my taste buds. “I’m glad you don’t drink like all these Indian girls in America.” Ooo, so he did NOT ready my profile.

“The devout refrain from meat and alcohol. You should stay away from spices, too. The heat affects some people negatively,” Virat lectures as if he, the Indian, is an expert on American desi girls. “You don’t eat meat?” I ask. “No. Didn’t you read my profile?” Virat’s words are prickly. I don’t remember his profile saying he was Brahmin, which is why I then ask, “I thought only Brahmins refrained from meat and alcohol. Are you Brahmin?”

A storm flashes through his brown eyes. “I’ll have you know I’m quite pure in my habits. I don’t exercise because I eat well. I don’t waste money and time at the bars. Sodas, too, you do know Diet Cokes are unhealthy?” Yeah well Diet Coke, affectionately termed “Diva Cola”, is one of the reasons I get out of bed every morning, so he can bite me. To demonstrate my affinity for brown bubbles, I take giant gulps of soda and sublimate my rage towards him.

I cannot stand Indian immigrants who move to the US and think they are better than those of us who were born here. I realize Indian desis think American desis are snots, but I double-dog dare them to spend and survive the 1980s in places like Des Moines, Fargo, Minneapolis, or Pittsburgh. Our charmed lives were not lived without challenges (including but not limited to: growing up with hairy monkey arms, caterpillar moustaches, unibrows, sideburns that rival Captain Kangaroo, wearing home-made clothes, and having sketchy athletic ability). And if these cantankerous over-stuffed, over-educated Indian desis despise us and everything American, they can go back to where they came from. Silently I will the waitress to return and take our orders so I can get the hell out here. 

To be cont.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I step into the restaurant and immediately smell warm sesame oil, peanuts and vegetables. My ears drink in the delicious sound of an indoor fountain. Wooden Buddha sculptures and exotic metal statues of Thai women line the walls. I walk up to the host stand, a teak table shaped like an elephant offering up mints and toothpicks and say, “I have a reservation under Desi Girl.” “Yes, I seated the other guest. Come with me,” the host says and escorts me to my awaiting date, Virat.

He rises to shake my hand. In my 3” tall boots we’re the same height. Interesting. His profile said he was 5’-8” but in these shoes I’m 5’-6”. Because I am a sighted woman who can visually determine things like obesity and height, I don’t like feeling deceived. Then again, what if he is the one desi engineer who cannot do math. 

Virat has round pockmarked cheeks and a broad forehead pitching towards the top of his head. He has a small gap between his front teeth and huge eyeglasses that not only hide his eyes but his unruly eyebrows. His shirt has more wrinkles than an old fisherman’s face so he must not own an iron or live near a dry cleaner (remarkable since there are on average four dry-cleaners per block in Manhattan). Then again I am not Miss World; he doesn’t need to be Bollywood hot. Besides, in my experience the painfully good looking Indian men also have the I’m-too-cool-for-you attitude and prefer white flesh to desi.

“Hello Desi Girl,” Virat says. Oh it is N-I-C-E to be on a date with a desi man who can properly pronounce my name. Even though I complain loudly and often, there are benefits in having a name that does not occur naturally in the American vernacular. It allows me the opportunity to screen calls from telemarketers, who routinely slaughter the pronunciation of my name and then ask if I listen to Christian Gospel music (no) or if I want to upgrade my cable package (again, no). 

“Have any trouble finding the place?” I ask. “Not at all,” he replies and I try to place his smooth, almost-but-not-completely-Indian accent. UK maybe? “I love Hell’s Kitchen. If I stay out too late, I can easily catch a cab from here home,” I share. Virat curls his lips. “You must like to vhaste money.” I swallow my water quickly. I misheard him, right? “Sorry?” I ask. “Don’t you take the subway?” “Well yes, but not when it’s late.”

From the way he says ‘vhaste’ rather than waste, he grew up in India. And from the way he can control his accent, making only one minor slip, I can tell he has studied in the States as well. Accents are funny that way. Mine is a little Midwestern, a little California, and then there are some rogue words like paprika I pronounce like a Delhiite. No matter how hard you try and change yourself, telling parts always remains. My mother still, after forty years in America, falls into the Delhi habit of rhyming. 

To be cont.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


“I followed a stranger into a building under construction. In Harlem,” I confess to my brother over the phone. “Was he at least wearing a hard hat and a company construction jacket?” he asks, not really surprised or concerned, probably because I’m alive and this isn’t the most dramatic thing I’ve ever done. All for matrimonial purposes, alone I traveled to a temple in Jammu and Kashmir, met strange men in strange cities, tolerated lewd actions and moved to Manhattan. “Yes, to both,” I reply. “Well, okay. But this isn’t something I’d tell Mom and Dad.” Agreed.

Later that afternoon I receive a call from Meera and Rohit asking if I checked out the building. Because I have these annoying Midwestern values that include integrity and honesty, I earnestly retell my escapade and receive a severe reprimand.“You did WHAT?” Meera yells into the phone. “Honey, you will NEVER believe this!” I listen to Meera recount my misadventure. I can tell by their fading voices and the hollow wind sound that they’re in the car, spending Sunday in Jersey looking for light fixtures. “Is she CRAZY?” Rohit yells. He is driving because direction sense is not her forte. “Tell her she’s an idiot!” “I can hear him,” I tell Meera dryly. “Good. Don’t ever go into an abandoned building again!”

That evening like a recovering crack addict I am jonesing for a Starbucks. I have actually hit that age where caffeine after 3 pm keeps up until 3 am, but I’m in the mood for espresso and steamed milk. I pull on a light jacket and leave my apartment. Once outside I smell coffee in the air wafting from the café. This is another reason I love New York, coffee made to specification located 30 seconds away, 60 if I don’t make the light.

From the sidewalk, I step into the street. The traffic lights in Manhattan are timed, the City couldn’t make driving and walking any easier on this island. Yet the vast majority of New Yorkers don’t bother with the crosswalks or traffic laws, and are the most indignant jaywalkers. And for what reason, I have adopted this behavior and step into northbound Fort Washington Avenue, and wait for the M4 bus to avoid me. I move into the middle of the street allowing southbound cars to pass. A gypsy cab slows down, stops and allows me to cross. I flash a huge smile, wave and jog in front of him. Sometimes New York surprises me. People stomp on your foot without apologizing, shove you on the sidewalk, or honk at you if you look at them wrong, yet this driver lets me cut across illegally on his right of way.

It could be argued that I am a certifiable idiot who engages in reckless behavior with her own person. Out of the fire (abandoned buildings) and into the frying pan (wandering in traffic), sometimes I wonder if I will learn. I definitely think it’s a good thing I’m not someone’s mother. Other times I think maybe I don’t have bad luck, so much as I have selective luck. I may have the world’s worst matrimonial stars, but I have the world’s strongest dangerous-situation-avoiding stars.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I turn the corner for the “affordable” building. The sign lists the broker contact details and I wonder why I didn’t notice this information yesterday. Two men without coats pass me. It is not that warm I think as a light breeze presses my hair against my lip-gloss. I tug my tresses free. The front door opens and a construction worker steps outside.

“Hi,” he says. He’s about 40 with a great complexion. He’s wearing Carharts, a company jacket, hardhat and steel-toed boots. “Hey,” I reply. “Thinking to buy?” he asks. “Maybe. If the price is right,” I say. “The floor plans are nice,” he shares. “Hhhmm,” I say and nod slightly. I need to sound reflective. Real estate in Manhattan is a merciless blood sport when contractors or brokers realize you’re interested. My words and body language need to appear loose, so he works to pique my interest. “We just laid the marble lobby and the security system’s gonna go in this week. Every unit will have a washer/dryer.”

He just raised real estate wooing to a new level. From my own hunt I know if an apartment building has even two sets of washers and dryers on-site I should drop to my knees and thank the goddesses. I have seen other New Yorkers lugging twenty pounds of stinky clothes, quarters and detergent down the street, hoping for one free machine at the Laundromat. Of course, if you can afford it, there is always the option of a washing service. But the thought of laundry IN my apartment is like finding a good sale - accidental happiness.

“Granite kitchen countertops, too,” he adds and looks me square in the eyes. Damn it! I paused too long and he knows he hooked me with laundry. I must raise the stakes. “Really granite? Or Sila-stone?” “How do you know that?” His brows wrinkle, a slow moving SUV momentarily distracts his attention. Majoring in architecture is not like serving in the Navy, I don’t wear my profession. So I must resort to dropping little bits and bubs of information that insiders would know. It gives me just enough credibility to appear knowledgeable.

“Doesn’t everyone in the industry know this?” I ask nonchalantly. So what if I don’t ACTUALLY design nor have a license? Contractor man does not need to know that. He nods and seems impressed. “Want a tour?” “Sure,” I reply. “You can’t tell anyone I did this. It’s against policy since we’re under construction and I don’t have a hard hat for you,” he explains. “I won’t say anything,” I reply.

Quickly I glance up and down the street. As I step over the building threshold I wonder, are these the last people to see me alive? I am not getting the cold-blooded murderer vibe from Contractor man. But I did just agree to follow a complete stranger into an abandoned New York City building filled with nail-guns, hammers, and power saws because he enticed me with washing machines and granite countertops.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


One end of the tape measure rests between the pads of my thumb and index finger. Meera stands eight feet away with the other end and Rohit takes notes. They closed on this apartment a year ago and are a few months from move in day. Their impending ownership delights me. As much as I love these urban nomads who have moved three times in two years, I really don’t want to help. Again.

"Honey, what about fixtures?” Meera asks. Her voice echoes against the white walls and bounces across the wood floor. Empty apartments always sound unwanted and hollow to me. “What about fixtures?” he asks without looking up. I smirk. Meera groans, “We have to buy them!” “I walked by a really nice light store in Flatiron,” I suggest and glance out the window. The sliver sized Romeo and Juliet balcony catches my eye. I am sure it is securely fastened to the building, but I don’t plan on standing on that thing any time soon. It is a seven-story drop from the apartment to the sidewalk. Given my luck these days, I don’t think I should chance it.

“Whaaaaaat?” Meera says. “Flatiron? Are you crazy? It is SO expensive. I buy wine glasses from Wal-Mart. We’re going to Home Depot, right honey?” “Yup,” Rohit replies. He has mastered knowing when to tune in and out of our conversations. “It’s required by law for Minnesotans to shop at Target,” I tease. “Why would I pay more when I can pay less?” Meera asks. “Am I really listening to this?” Rohit asks in a tired tone, “Wal-Mart and Money by Meera?” “What’s wrong with him?” I ask Meera. Normally Rohit PRETENDS we are annoying, but secretly finds us entertaining. “Oh he’s just mad because I don’t want to put in a faux brick wall like we had in the Upper West apartment,” Meera says. “I think they look very New York,” Rohit insists.

Meera rolls her eyes. “Honey! They are not going to increase the value of our apartment!” Rohit makes a face and returns to his notes. “Desi Girl, I have an idea!” “What would that be?” I ask. I never know which Meera I am going to get: the very serious medical professional or the goof who doesn’t like to wear shoes. “Move across the street from us.” Her beautiful brown eyes brighten and she smiles big and full, revealing perfect rows of pearly white teeth. She MUST be joking, with what shall I make the purchase? I have anti-money these days. “It’s considered affordable,” Rohit adds.

“Affordable” is a loaded word in this City. On the other hand, I am still thoroughly infatuated with Manhattan that I don’t see myself returning to Minneapolis any time soon. “Are you serious? You’d be okay with me living across the street from her?” I ask Rohit and point at his wife. “Why not?” Rohit asks, looking puzzled. “We would never see you anyway.” “Just make sure you close those curtains when you are having some lovin’ tiiiiime,” Meera sings. “I think I just threw up a little in my mouth,” Rohit deadpans.

* * *

The next morning it takes the better part of an hour to go four miles. Sketchy weekend subway service is becoming a regular nuisance. By the time the train pulls into the Harlem station I am certain I burned 100 calories sighing and fidgeting the whole ride down.

I rush out of the subway and onto the street. I wait for the light and inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Yoga is not helping. Tiny bubbles of tension are trapped under my skin and I cannot release them because I don’t know what is causing them. I just feel them all the time.

The walk light flashes and I cross the street. The air smells like meat and I remember to sanitize my hands. What I like about Harlem is what I like about Washington Heights. Real residential neighborhoods inhabited by real New Yorkers, who travel on rush hour subways to 9-to-5 jobs, buy groceries from the bodega and sleep in on Saturdays. Cabs are an infrequent sighting and it is comforting to see the same cars parked in front of my building. I find the requisite Starbucks, Duane Reade, Chase and Citibank locations at the intersections. But thankfully the big boxes cannot find enough space to invade my urban landscape.

I don’t fear Harlem like I used to. I have learned that no one in Manhattan bothers you if you act like you belong. So I regularly employ tactics like scowling, avoiding eye contact, looking bored and jamming on my IPod to underscore my native status. I haven’t been mugged yet. So far so good.

To be cont.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


“How did a Jewish guy go over with your parents?” Jane asks. Oh boy, she is NOT going to be subtle about this. Then again subtly is not one of her or my strengths. “She was 37 and they wanted her married,” Naveen says. “How old are you?” Jane asks. “38,” Naveen replies and orders his third drink. Fourth if you include the one at Spotted Pig. He also drove into the City, so I’m glad I won’t be on the Brooklyn Bridge tonight. “Are your parents pressuring you to marry?” Jane asks hopefully. Meanwhile I think I might die. My own mother is NOT this direct. “Nah, I’m a guy,” Naveen says and stretches his arm across the back of my dining chair.

I find this so maddening I could spit; I mean if I weren’t such a priss-pot. Do I really need another reminder about how messed up and anti-woman desi dating is? Or maybe it is dating in New York, but thanks to Charlie Chaplin having babies at the age of 73, men seem to think they have A-L-L the time in the world. But really, at 50 are they going to be handsome and have their hair? Also, I don’t appreciate Naveen invading my space after his declaration of disinterest. It is completely fine with me if he wishes to play the field, but I don’t need him being all faux-cozy with me.

From that point I talk to Bill and Jane. I don’t ignore Naveen; however I make it clear that if he is interested he needs to act like it. Obviously Naveen is a clever boy and senses my disdain. He removes his arm and stops acting like a jackass. That is until the bill comes.

To my horror, the bill is divvied into four equal quarters. And no, I was not expecting my date to comp my meal. However, I was not expecting to pay for Naveen’s three drinks, coffee and steak dinner. I ordered a $20 pasta and water. Jane, a skinny girl chronically on a diet, had wine and salad. Because I am a simple working gal, making it month by month, I find the cheapness of rich people stunning. Sure, I understand that this is how the rich got rich. But this is TACKY! Jane and I combined spent $50 on our dinners and they spent $150.

Jane and I can’t say good-bye fast enough. We scurry, more like limp since our feet hurt, out of the restaurant. She hails a cab. I protest that I cannot afford it, especially after that dinner. “I’ll expense it,” Jane insists, shoves me inside and slams the door. “Two stops. West 71 and Columbus and West 181 and Fort Washington.” The cabbie whips a U-turn (not recommended on the cobblestone West Village/Meatpacking streets) and cruises onto the West Side Highway. As I watch Chelsea and Midtown West blur by I turn to Jane and say, “I don’t think I’m marrying him.” “Absolutely not! He is cheap and uncouth!” Jane yelps. “And was raised by wolves,” I interject. “Clearly,” Jane adds and sighs.

Monday, August 23, 2010


When Bill and Naveen FINALLY arrive, they do so in installments. Bill arrives first, orders a drink, and calls Naveen for his estimated time of arrival. Ten minutes later Naveen strides in and shoot a pickle! At the 6’-4” he is tall! He’s no Yao Ming, but Naveen could quite possibly be the tallest Indian man I have ever met. And God in heaven, he is outrageously handsome with thick straight hair piled on his head, wide nose and broad, sturdy, physically fit frame. He is 100% prime desi man, cut me off a piece of that! I might even want a second helping!

For some reason I've never imagined that I’d end up with someone GORGEOUS. Looks aren’t really important to me and sometimes the pretty boys are annoyingly stupid. Also, the pandits regularly tell me I won’t marry someone attractive. Fine by me, I am SOOOO okay with being the cute one! I do wonder if Naveen is good in bed.

Because Jane and I are starving, we insist (nicely) on leaving and opting for a place where we don’t have to scream to be heard. Bill and Naveen agree and the four of us walk north and find an Italian place somewhere between the Village and Meatpacking district.

Dinner conversation is light. As typical Americans, we talk about work. At some point Naveen mentions his sister and niece. “How did your sister meet her husband?” Jane asks Naveen. “Work. He’s Jewish,” Naveen explains. Desi parents make it clear that they want their desi kids to bring home desi spouses. And desi parents are not shy about this demand. I think over time we desi kids, especially first generation Americans, feel we must explain when our sibling or we fail to bring brown home. Even if we think are modern, and a nice blend of East-meets-West, we’re god-fearing Hindus who were taught to believe women are the custodians of the faith. When women enter foreign marriages or divorce, children became lawless and Indian society breaks down.

I take issue with the way Hinduism shames women more than the men for loving non-desis. Because sometimes I don’t think I am destined to marry desi and why should I feel bad that I cannot control my out of control stars.

To be cont.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

172. I FOUND YOUR HUSBAND – Part Three

Jane and I detrain in the West Village and head towards the Spotted Pig, a hipster bar where the fabulous gather for happy hour. This is another reason I opted for the capri pants and not the dress. Most days I struggle with my clothes, I want to wear trendy, head turning outfits, but I’m not tall or slim. So I can’t wear skinny jeans or tuck my tops into my pants like the malnourished, flat stomached, waif-like fashion models. Those bitches!

But I am plucky and do not readily accept defeat. So I funk up my outfits with unique jewelry, handbags and shoes. I am an aspiring trendy. And someday I will have enough money to liposuction the fat out of my thighs! 

“I think we’re going the wrong way,” Jane says as we cut through Abingdon Square en route for West 11th Street via Hudson. “No, we’re fine. We should turn west and then south,” I reply. The West Village is trés haute and happening as evidenced by the eateries, shops and rents STARTING at $2,500.00. However, the lack of urban planning, deficiency in parking and departure from the street grid have me wondering if the City Planners back in the day were suffering from multiple personality disorder.

We turn left onto Greenwich and Jane demands, “How do you know the West Village so well?” I shrug and say, “I have friends who live here.” "What friends are these?” Jane asks. As she walks, she simultaneously changes her shoes. Lord I hope she doesn’t fall down, we won’t be able to blame cocktails this early in the night. “Ainsley and Siobhan,” I reply.

Sometimes I wonder if Jane actually listens to me or waits, hoping I say something profound or interesting. True, we’re both a bit bossy, but our relationship is evolving; only she doesn’t see it. In the beginning I was dependent on her and she took really good care of me. I will forever be grateful that she saved me from being sucked up by the City. But I’m resourceful. I bought a map, made some friends, and started living my new Manhattan life. 

Once inside the Spotted Pig we order wine, find a table and drop our bags. It is in these moments I wonder how I will ever get married. Everyone woman in this bar is sinfully decadent wearing irresponsible stilettos, dresses with recklessly short hemlines, and perfectly coiffed hair. Why would any man pick me over these lovelies?

Ten minutes later, an irritated Jane pulls out her phone to text Bill and says, “Where are they?” This is rich --- she’s annoyed they’re late? She routinely keeps me waiting an average of 37 minutes! As time ticks away towards forty-five minutes tardy, we become VERY displeased with our time challenged companions. I am sure the combination of the over capacity bar crowd and the 3” heels on our feet are not helping. And yes, our foot pain is their fault. If they had arrived on time we wouldn’t be plotting foot removal with shards of wine glasses and no anesthesia.

To be cont.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Jane and I are meeting Bill (friend) and Naveen (future husband) in the West Village. We head to the 50th Street station for either the C or E train. To hedge our best bets in boarding the next train (as they both run along the same line and stop at 14th Street), Jane stands near the stairs that lead to the lower platform for the E train. I peer down the upper track for the lights of the C train. Within minutes I hear Jane yelling, “An E is coming! Run, Desi Girl, Run!” She then races down the steps.

In my three-inch strappy copper sandals I bolt across the upper platform and charge down the stairs. My heels clank and clatter against the concrete. Jane is on the edge of the platform when the E train pulls into the station. By the time I reach her side the train has stopped, the doors open, we board, the doors immediately close and we lurch downtown. “You move fast on those short legs! I was worried you wouldn’t make it,” Jane comments and nods appreciatively. “Mind over Manhattan,” I say.

I am not really sure when it happens. But at some point you fall into rhythm with the City. You haul ass like a hurricane is coming when you see the bus or hear the subway. Because we all know if you miss the bus/train it can take 10 minutes before the next one arrives. So we drop pride like a dirty Kleenex and run like addicts jonesing for transport, darting between the elderly, jumping over puddles and sticking our hands between the closing doors.

In time you concede to over-priced housing, groceries and martinis. You recognize locals from tourists and would prefer having your eyes poked out with a plastic knife than WILLING go into Times Square EVER and especially NOT on a Saturday. You know how many paces it will take to outpace the person ahead of you. You can read a person's body language to determine if they will jaywalk, wait for the light or run across the street in the yellow. You know NOT to feed the pigeons. And you learn the left side of escalators is for walking and the right side is for standing.

You no longer notice or question why a random 500-gallon of hydrogen sits at the northeast corner of 79th Street and Lexington Avenue. You don’t fear kamikaze cabbies. You don’t expect your flight to land into LGA on time, EVER. And when it is timely, you’re mad as sin because the car service won't be there for another 30 minutes. But eventually the smell of sewer gases, urine and souvlaki become normal. While all this is happening, you don’t wonder why you left that small town you still call home.

This is what I meant when I said, if you survive the first year in Manhattan, bravo!

To be cont.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


“I found your husband,” Jane squeals into the phone. This should be interesting, I think and flop on the bed. “What was he doing? Collecting cans from the garbage?” This peculiar phenomenon, where people dig through the trash and recycling for cans and bottles, is seen ALL over Manhattan. See, we are charged a nickel deposit EVERY time we buy a soda or bottled water. And if you turn in the cans and bottles you get the nickel back. However, most of us don’t live near a recycling center or care about the nickel, so we New Yorkers literally throw money away. It must be a decent chunk of change because people regularly dig through the garbage, pile the recyclables into shopping carts and wheel them away.

“No!” Jane scolds. “He is gorgeous. Super tall, dark, and broad build. He's friends with my friend Bill. I told Bill you are smart, gorgeous, curvy and fabulous. He already loves you for Naveen. If you guys work out it will be another couple I set-up. And this guy is MUCH better looking than Reindeer,” Jane insists. “But I liked Reindeer,” I reply. “I know you did sweetie,” Jane coos. “But he was bald.” “He had a bald spot!” I correct. “So when can you meet him, Naveen Nair? How about Thursday?” Oh sure why not.

* * *

The next evening I pace the lobby of Jane’s office building. I don’t want to trek all the way to her office and go through the sign-in-security-desk hassle. But I cannot stand in once place too long because most Manhattan towers have rules about loitering. Normally I’d wait outside but it is toooooooo hot and I don’t want to be a sweaty mess before my date.

I hear Jane before I see her. I turn to find her power walking across the marble floor in her tennis shoes. Her gait is so long and fast that the back of her dress jogs behind her, desperate to keep up. She drops her huge bag onto the floor. This is another Manhattan phenomena. Most women carry at least two bags, sometimes three if they cannot stuff their purse into one of their bags. I’ve actually seen women drop $1,000 Chloe bags onto the dirty Manhattan floors. Jane pecks a little kiss on my lips (she’s French). “Hi sweetie. Why aren’t you wearing glittery eye shadow?”
“I’m not wearing any eye shadow,” I reply. “Why didn’t you wear a dress?” she asks.

For the record there is NOTHING wrong with what I am wearing --- tapered dressy capri pants with a very small check pattern, and a sleeveless brown tunic cut so low I need to wear a tank top. Also, I had my legs waxed today. As a seasoned depilatory veteran, hot wax applied to my person as a prelude to hair being ripped from its follicles with muslin cloth is not the worst part of the process. It is the speckled blotchy mess that reddens my brown skin for the next 24 hours. With my f-ed up stars, I have enough going against me. I don’t need dermatitis to start off our date. “I love you in dresses. You have great legs,” she says. “From the knees down they are great, but…” I explain but she cuts me off. “Oh my God, look at your shoes!” Jane exclaims. Talk about attention deficit syndrome…

To be cont.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


“Sorry I’m late. I got a little lost, which is sad because I used to live around the corner,” Vijay explains. “I love this area,” I reply. “Why?” he asks and sips his water. “Because I would live within blocks of Kemia, Yum Yum, Afghan Kebab House, Sosa Borella, Empanada Mama…” He does not blink or react as I run through restaurant row. Meanwhile I am nearly salivating at the mere thought of these places whose menus flash before my eyes like a vacancy / no vacancy sign.

“It’s food. You eat, you’re hungry. It’s fine.” The cruel words, “you eat, you’re hungry, it’s fine,” begin a repeating relay through my mind, wounding my inner foodie. New York is a TOUGH-ASS place to live. If you survive the first year, more or less intact, bravo! But the restaurants and Broadway shows make getting jacked on taxes palatable for me.

“Did you like living here?” I ask changing the topic, hoping he says something interesting. “It was fine. I sublet from a woman who was in shoes.” Hello salvation --- a story about a woman and her shoes? “And?” I ask. “She was nuts,” Vijay replies.
Ooooo. Better! A nutty woman AND her shoes! Perhaps there is hope for Midwestern Vee-Jay.

“Not sure if she was a buyer or supplier, but there were boxes ALL over the living room. It was a revolving door of deliverymen comin’ and goin’, takin’ and bringin’ boxes. And she’d be gone for weeks at a time so me and the other renter would be stuck dealing with the deliveries,” Vijay shares.
“Are you sure it wasn’t a cover for drugs?”
I ask this is New York after all. “No. There were too many shoes and invoices.” “Was living with her annoying?” “When it was Shoe Girl and me, it was fine. The bathroom could not handle three of us.”

I cannot imagine sharing a shower with strangers. Ever. Hotel bathrooms skeeve me out. “That wasn’t as annoyin’ as the price gougin’. She was rippin’ us off in rent,” Vijay says flags down a waitress and orders a beer.
“How did you know that?” I ask. Why does he keep “droppin’” his “g”s?! “The lease came while she was gone and I read it,” he explains. “It’s definitely an art to live in the City by passing your burden onto someone else,” I reply and smirk. When I learn how shysters operate, I am reminded that New York is like New Delhi in SOOO many ways. “That wasn’t the worst part. She went away for months at a time and started rentin’ her room out. We had random Germans, Chinese and Italians stayin’ there.” “What about safety?” I am a complete freak about precautions (though it’s not evident from how much I drink and date, or in my case, attempt to date).

“Nope. But I got the hell out when my lease was over. Where do you live?” he asks. “Washington Heights.” “You live way up there?” Vijay says with disdain in his twangy Midwestern accent. “Where do you live?” I ask, irritated by his tone. “Battery Park.” Okay, Battery Park is as far SOUTH from Hell’s Kitchen as Washington Heights is NORTH. And he just earned his third strike. One was showing up late (it’s ironic since I tried to be tardy). Two, his refusal to pronounce my name. Three, mocking the Heights.

It would be easier to be a contestant on Jeopardy than desi date!

Monday, August 16, 2010


The night after St. Patty’s Day I have a date with Vijay. He works in the financial district, and like me, is from the Midwest. Since Vijay contacted me, he suggested Hell’s Kitchen and made a reservation at Chelsea Grill. A part of me is annoyed that I reigned in my inner control freak, and let him pick this place. I have been to the Chelsea Grill before and don’t love it. But I must give this desi his just desserts for having and executing a plan.

I have also decided to arrive late. We’re meeting at 8:00 pm and at 7:40 pm I leave my apartment. The west 40s are a solid 40 minute commute so I should arrive exactly at 8:20 pm. As I watch the slooooooooowest moving A train leisurely come into the 181st Street station I am excited that my plan will work. I will certainly be WAY late, so excellent!!!

From that point the train makes all the stops: 175, 168, 145, 125 and 59 Streets in record time running like a jackrabbit on amphetamines. I just DON’T believe this. Why doesn’t the MTA run ALL the trains with German Six Sigma precision? Especially when I have pressing matters to attend to, like go shopping or getting my manicure!

Five minutes after eight I am in front of the restaurant reading a text message from Vijay that says: Running late. Be there by 815. What is this nonsense? I have to wait for him? He was supposed to be waiting for me. I cannot WOO him if he’s not here!!! 

I go into the restaurant and get seated. The most notable feature of this place is that part of the façade is comprised of a garage door that opens the restaurant to the street. So on the first few balmy April days when grassy, floral, leafy rebirth washes freshness over the City, the Chelsea Grill’s happy hour patrons can bask in Spring’s joyous arrival.

I push the menu aside. There is no need to review it. I have been here before and know there are only two things I can eat (it’s Tuesday), pasta or the portabella mushroom burger. Another ten minutes pass and there is no sign of Vijay and I order a glass of white wine. I can’t remember if his profile says he drinks, but I don’t care.

Normally I submit to conspiracy theories and worry that I am being stood up, yet today the thought doesn’t bother me. If he doesn’t come I’ll finish my wine, pay, walk to Columbus Circle and get lost in the J. Crew cashmere section. See how zen I can be?

At 8:30 pm Vijay arrives. He’s dressed nicely, in a button-down and dress pants. He’s tall, well over 6’-0”, nice build, great hair, brown eyes, standard north Indian. “Hey, I’m Vee-jay,” he says. Oh my. He has intentionally mispronounced his name, VIH-jay, by Americanizing it to VEE-jay, which is one of my pet peeves. Then he commits my second pet peeve and SLAUGHTERS my name. UGH! If I could get my bevy of blonde friends back home and in college to say my name, then I sure as sugar expect brown folks to say brown names!

I hope this is not indicative of the entire date.

To be cont.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I lie on my bed eating dinner, fish and chips (which involved me going to Duane Reade and buying a bag of Swedish fish and Ruffles sour cream and onion potato chips). Since it is St. Patrick’s Day I wonder if I should wear green. If you take one look at me you know I am NOT NOT NOT Irish. But is it better or rude to embrace the custom. I mean, I go to Indian weddings and regularly see the bride’s non-desi girlfriends in saris.

I pop the last chip into my mouth and pull out a maroon tee-shirt and jeans. This is the outfit I had on the day Reindeer told me he didn’t want to date me anymore. Normally I think wearing cursed outfits is an omen, but today, I am setting my desi superstitions aside.

* * *

I get to the Social and it is jam packed with the Irish, clad in green and shamrocks. Ainsley texted me that they were in the back so I shove and push my way through what feels like half of Manhattan before I find my friends. “Where have you been? You know it's bad when I get here before you!” Siobhan asks and sips beer in her power suit. She works CRAZY hours and generally joins us later. And since I am punctual, my friends worry and assume the worst when I am late. “Sorry, sorry! Train traffic on the A line,” I say.

For hours, we drink adult bevvies, eat greasy bar food, and listen to bagpipes. At some point Siobhan and I strike up conversation with men in kilts, one whose accent is SO strong I have no idea what he’s saying. I nod and smile and at some point he must have offered to buy me a beer because suddenly I am double-fisted.

At the end of the night we’re a little drunk and giggling. Ainsley and her boyfriend leave. Siobhan and I stand outside the bar and two Irishmen from Ireland strike up conversation with us. Because Siobhan was recently in Ireland and has an Irish name, they become fast friends. “So are you single?” one of the Irish men asks me. I nod. “What? How is that possible?” he asks in his strong accent. “I know, right?” Siobhan asks and tilts her head at me. “Whenever you girls are in Kearney, look us up.” Sure. I have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. Another desi man just rejected me and I am kind of fighting with my parents. By the time I get to Ireland, I’ll be old, cranky and crusty, but thanks for the invite!

"Come with me next door,” Siobhan says and we duck into bodega. “How are you getting home?” she asks and withdraws cash. I furrow my brows wondering why she would ask as I only have one option. “Subway,” I reply.

“Oh no,” she says. “Half of New York City has been drinking since noon, you’re drunk, they’re drunk, and you don’t live in a safe area.” I roll my eyes. “There is nothing wrong with Washington Heights.” “A rapper was killed here,” she says. “A year ago,” I correct. “And a woman was raped,” Siobhan adds. Lord, don’t mess with Lady Lawyers! “I will be fine,” I insist once we’re outside again. “Oh I know you’ll be fine, “ Siobhan says and sticks her hand out. Immediately a cab comes, she stuffs me inside, hands me money and says, “Text me when you get home.”

Tears spring to my eyes and I nod. I blow her a kiss and the cab pulls away. Okay, desi men be damned. With a little luck and the love of my friends, maybe I will just make it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


“What do you mean you have never gone out on St. Patrick’s Day?” Ainsley demands into the phone. “It’s a day centered on drinking beer, which makes my stomach sick. And I am NOT Irish,” I remind. “Drink hard liquor! But you are SOOO meeting us at the Social on 48th and 8th. Siobhan is coming too. There will be hot fire fighters. Maybe you’ll meet a nice non-Indian man,” Ainsley gushes. “My parents will LOVE that,” I joke.

She’s quiet for a long moment, which is abnormal and unsettling since we’re both chatterboxes. “Look, I know I’m ignorant when it comes to your culture. I’m not EVEN going to pretend to understand the pressure you face. But I don’t think any of these guys --- Reindeer, Town and Country --- deserve you. And it bothers me that you live in New York and restrict yourself to a box that you don’t belong in,” Ainsley says quickly. All her bottled up thoughts and feelings release and rush towards me.

I twist the ring on my middle finger. She doesn’t say anything that I haven’t considered a million times. On one hand, sure I’m educated, but I was still raised to put everyone and their needs before me and mine. Because I thought my destiny was to be someone’s wife and mother. But the thing is, while I love kids, I wonder if I REALLY want them. Or did the legends of the goddesses lead me to believe that my calling in life was to procreate.

My many years as a singleton have me worrying if I can function in a unit. And what man, desi or otherwise, desires a high-strung, Type A, driver, control freak personality. Let’s just say I get married. Then what? We start living the “keeping-up-with-the-Patels” life. At over-priced bars we talk about our stock portfolios, shiny graduate degrees -- MBA, JD, PhD, MD, DDS and coordinating job titles -- President, Director, Esquire, Chief of Staff, Leading Authority, Doctor. We leave the City and acquire an outlandish Rye residence with our 2.2 kids and that f-ing dog I barely like, grilling tandoori chicken on a stately Weber and smoking out the neighbors. Ugh. I want more than that.

“Hellooooo?” Ainsley sings into the phone. “You’re upset with me, right? I overstepped my boundary.” “No, not at. You’re just honest. And you are right, Desi Girl needs to bust out of her routine. Bring on the H-O-T fire fighters!” “So excited!” Ainsley says. “See you tonight!”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


The next morning I get on the computer and find this email from Town and Country time stamped at 2:31 am. And of course, because I am as curious as I am chatty, I open it at once.

Thanks for the email. I apologize for not getting back to you. I am trying to reconcile with the girl I had been seeing. I check the matrimonial site as a distraction. You’re a sweet girl, and I know you’ll find someone that makes you very happy.

Sweet? Bah! But, what I do find interesting is that he doesn’t use her name, which I know, in addition to ALL the details about their relationship. Surely he must remember those deeply personal conversations we had. Because I neither leave well enough alone, nor do I realize when life is waving a DANGER DESI GIRL! DANGER! sign, I out of compassion (I should really stop doing this) write him back.

Thanks for your note and honesty. I know what it feels like to love someone who doesn’t love you back. But when the dust settles I must admit, I miss the idea of my past loves, but not them. Break-ups are sometimes the universe’s way of fixing what is broken. I have yet to look back at an ex and not feel relief in some way. I hope you find the love or peace you need. And for the record, meeting you was good for me. It restored something in me.

If I could, I'd wave a wand and make her like you or make you get over her. It takes time and it is so hard when you are the one more in love. If you're interested in being friends, let me know. Take care and be well --- don't give into fear and forgive yourself.

Immediately he writes back:
Friends. That would be nice. 

Goodie, friends it is. In the event you're free Thursday, let me know, we can go for kati rolls. (What is wrong with me? He is not available and not interested! Why did I EVEN offer to be his friend?)

I'm traveling all week.

(See. I reached out and was rejected in 10 seconds by my new friend Town and Country.) Happy travels. Email me when you get back, when/if you want to hang out.

Okay, R-E-A-L-L-Y, why don't I stop when I'm ahead? Clearly Town and Country is NOT NOT NOT  my destiny. At least he was man enough, decent enough, to provide me the closure I deserve. Now Desi Girl, I command you to move forward.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


For a change I am laying in bed and not on the couch. I listen to the sounds of my neighborhood --- cars rumbling along 181st Street, dogs barking, and distant voices. Over two hours have elapsed since I set my head against the pillow so I am pretty sure the insomnia is back.

In graduate school I had chronic stress-induced insomnia. I suppose that happens when you work full time, go to night-school full time, study all weekend, never set foot in a gym for two years and live on faux nutrients found in Diet Coke and Taco Bell hot sauce. This has me thinking that the Diet Coke I drank seven hours ago is keeping me awake. But the bottle of wine I drank two hours ago should have balanced the caffeine. Perhaps it’s stress. Or maybe I hit my breaking point with men. No, scratch that. Not ALL men. Just the mentally stunted, emotionally BROKEN desi men I seem to date. And no, no, I don’t hate men, desi or otherwise, I plan to marry one. I mean, as soon as my broke-down, rusted-out stars stop conspiring against me. 

Then again maybe I am doing something wrong. Am I putting “bad” energy out there and attracting freaks and jerks? Do I even want a relationship? I mean I have been single so long, can I function in a unit? Perhaps I am a self-saboteur purposely finding all the wrong men. Recently Ainsley asked me, “Desi Girl, what do all the men you date have in common?” I thought for a long, hard minute and said, “Single and Hindu.” “I think you should date the opposite,” Ainsley suggested. “You think I should date married Christian men? I am sure their wives will just LOVE that.”

Fueled the demand of closure, I bolt out of bed. What did Scarlet O’Hara say? “As God is my witness I shall never go hungry again?” Well as God is my witness I shall no longer tolerate desi men who behave badly. They need to have the guts to say, “Desi Girl, you are NOT all that and a bag of chips. And I am not into you.” I get on the computer and open an old Town and Country email. Just as voting is my right as an American, Town and Country OWES me an explanation for his Houdini act. As I pen my 139-word email to him (ah yes, because what man won’t LOOOOOOVE opening his email and seeing this), I wonder if he flashes all his dates. Is he flashing someone now? Or was I JUST that special.

Hey there! I sent you an email last week --- on the off chance you didn’t get it and thought I was (a) blowing you off (b) still buried under a Vermont snow bank or (c) running an undercover secret opp for the CIA --- I was not!!! In all seriousness, I suspect the reality is simply you aren’t interested --- which I understand. Of course I wish you would have been honest and told me (don’t feel obligated now unless you really want to), I know (according to my men friends) they'd rather scale Mount Everest without a sub-arctic parka and endure frostbite before telling a woman they are not interested or that they want to date other people. If either has happened, I understand. In any event, I don’t have any hard feelings. Best wishes, Desi Girl

Monday, August 9, 2010


“He’s married,” Meera declares into the phone. I shift on the couch and flatly say, “He is a lot of things, but married is NOT one of the. I saw every inch of his house, including the bedroom,” I retort and pop a sour cream and onion Ruffles potato chip into my mouth. “Oh really” she sneers into the phone. I groan. “He wanted my opinion about something," I reply. "I'll be he did!" Meera says. I ignore her and say, “Now that I think about it, Town and Country had no photos of anyone, not even himself, in his house.” “Maybe it’s not his house,” Meera suggests. “It’s his house!” I reply and laugh.

“Hhhmm,” Meera reflects. “How does a man who dated the life out of you suddenly go silent?” “Dunno,” I reply. “Honey,” Meera says and her voice fades. “Why do you think Town and Country won’t call her back?” I hear muffled voices and Rohit gets on the phone. “Where are you meeting these people?” he demands. “Lord! I am the dismal-ist desi dater known to God or man!” I sigh. “He’s gay,” Rohit gives his standard response and hands the phone back to Meera. “He’s married,” Meera insists again. “He’s Indian. He wouldn’t risk his marriage or more importantly, losing half his stuff over a meaningless, sexless tryst with a prudish desi girl.” “Good point...You’re sure you didn’t sleep with him?” Meera asks. “Really? After EVERYTHING I have been through and all the stupid things I do, you think I would withhold THAT from you?” “Okay,” Meera says.

For the next six days I force myself back into a routine. My brother reprimanded my father for the way he mishandled my “dismissal” last week. So I return to editing proposals and contracts. I see an Off-off-Broadway play. I make a date with Vijay (who incorrectly pronounces his own name as Vee-Jay). When the weekend roles around I get a stylish haircut the same day the first Manhattan crane drops to the ground on the East Side in the 50s. I lunch with Jack and Jane, then brunch in the Flatiron with Ainsley and Siobhan.

When Sunday evening arrives, I feel sad that the weekend and my free time are over. It morphs into the blues, as I realize another five days of the daily, boring, unrewarding grind are coming up. And despite filling my time and space with EVERYTHING and EVERYONE I cannot get over how insignificant I am. Men, or at least the ones I seem to date, are like faucets. When they are into me, it’s like hot water gushing and rushing uncontrollably. Then suddenly, without warning or explanation, a clog appears and the water dams up. It’s like I was never there. And for me, because I feel with every inch and ounce of my being, the current of silent rejection pulls me under and drowns my like nothing else could.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


While I survive the mountain, I don't stop thinking about Town and Country or my job. Anger, regret and self-doubt take turns beating me up. I am angry that Town and Country fills my thoughts. Why am I weak? I regret moving back to Minnesota at 21 rather than Manhattan. Why am I obedient? I doubt my abilities, what if I amount to nothing more than an unemployed spinster. Ugh! How did this happen to me?

We return the car and I traverse the island and board an Uptown A train. I order cheap Chinese for dinner and unpack. When I cannot take it anymore, clearly I am a glutton for punishment, I get on the computer and send Town and Country an email alerting him to my return to Manhattan. (Meera is going to kill me when I tell her I did this).

Deep inside I KNOW he’s not into me. He has had a million chances to contact me. For the love of God and his cousin Henry, I’ve been gone for four days! In which time I have made a million excuses for him. He has clients that need him. His friends are still here. He is sick. He is well. He is dating his ex again. He is visiting his parents. He got hit by a bus.

In addition to some mild heartache, I’m in physical pain, too, from “skiing” (read: falling down A LOT and often) and wonder how I ended up liking someone I never intended to like. And God, why? Why did you make men like this? Why can’t they just say, “I don’t want to date you, good-bye.” Or, “my mother will never like you." Or, “you are too fat, dumb, ugly, bad in bed, etc.”

Sure, it hurts, the truth usually does. But ignoring me, hurts more.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Before mastering the mountain, I enroll in ski school. It costs $99, but I think my life is worth it. My friends buy their lift tickets and we part ways. I travel the catacomb of hallways and find “my class”.

“I’m Mac,” the instructor says. He looks older than dirt. With tan and weathered skin, he clearly has spent his life on the slopes. “Let’s do introductions,” Mac suggests. “I’m Andy,” says the blonde man next to me. “Desi Girl,” I reply. Then the four GORGEOUS women with accents share their names and that they are visiting from Puerto Rico. Mac nods and says, “I’m going to review boots and bindings. Then take you outside for snow exercises.” Normally I like school; I’m a dork with a mild addiction to buying books. I believe the path to Lakshmi (the goddess who blesses wealth) requires diligent and faithful devotion to Sarasvati (the goddess of education). But ski school feels like gym class, the one study whose success eluded me.

Mac clears his throat and says to me, “do you want to explain what I said to them? Or are they okay?” It takes a SOLID minute for me to realize (a) Mac thinks all non-white girls in his class are Hispanic (b) Mac doesn’t hear the difference in our accents and (c) if he would just listen, he could discern the four Puerto Rican girls speak FLUENT English.

I survive indoor ski school and on the way outside I start conversation with one of the four girls. I learn they are with a group of 24 Puerto Rican girls. Twelve flew in from Puerto Rico, the other 12 live in Boston and all 24 road-tripped for a Vermont ski weekend. Half of their group can ski and is on the slopes. The other half is scattered amongst three different ski school classes.

Once outside we learn to balance, fall down, get up, walk sideways, and snow-plow/stop. We catch up with another ski school class and two female students slide over to me and in unison say, “Hola!” Then they begin speaking in rapid fire Spanish. Finally, when I can no longer handle standing there, encrusted in snow, with my runny nose, I say, “I don’t speak Spanish and I’m not with you.” Really?

* * *

Around noon ski school is over and I meet my friends for lunch. Wynn offers to take me down an easy slope, the closest thing Killington has to a bunny hill. We dump our trays and put on our skis.

In order to get from the dining hall to the easy runs we ski next to a divided highway. Meg leads the way, swishing and swerving like an Olympian. Siobhan is close behind her; Kate skis at a medium pace, keeping a watchful eye on Wynn and me, just in case I need help. I push off and am pleased at my pace. Wow, is this what control feels like? Yippee! I feel cold wind on my face. I feel powerful. I feel elegant. Then I hit a bump that rolls into a dip of an icy decline. I recover but have gained W-A-Y too much speed.

“Slow down!” Wynn screams. “I can’t stop!” I scream back and find another bump. “Turn left!” Wynn screams. I try and try and try. But like Zoolander I cannot turn left and become an out of control pink and black blur shooting diagonally across the run, STRAIGHT towards the highway filled with cars and trucks. Why didn’t they teach us how to change direction in class? Right now that seems more important than stopping!

The landscape upturns. I lose my balance; plow into a snow bank interspersed with thin seedlings and fall down. Wynn and Kate rush to my side and find me on my back, staring at the grey ski tangled in skis and poles. Wynn peers over me; her cheeks red and flushed. “Anything feel broken?” she asks gingerly. “You mean other than my spirit?” I ask. Kate has started crying because she is laughing SO hard. “Kate help me get her up!” They pull me onto my feet and reattach skis to my feet. “Holy shit!” Wynn yelps. “Who puts a highway next to a slow run for beginners? I totally thought you were gonna die.” Nice.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The next morning I wake up bleary-eyed, wondering where I am and whose voices I hear. I have lived alone for a decade so unexpected sound(s) startle me. I pad into the kitchen and find Kate and Wynn. “Want some coffee?” Kate asks. Uhm do Hindus begin every auspicious occasion by invoking the god Ganesh? Yes please!!! (see photo to right of Ganesh).

I take a long sip and savor the black gold seduction of Juan Valdez. Meg bounces into the kitchen, with far too much zest and vigor for the 7:00 am hour. She is dressed head-to-toe in fashionable, color-coordinated ski wear.  “Mornin’!” she chirps. She looks like a blonde ski bunny, slim, sleek, and sporty. She stands in her après ski boots and cream cheeses a bagel and checks her watch. “See you guys later,” Meg says. “Wait 10 minutes and I’ll go with you,” Wynn says. “No,” Meg replies and dashes out the door. 

“I can be ready in 10 minutes. Wynn, will you wait for me?” I ask. I am very NERVOUS about being on a mountain. Didn’t Sonny Bono die this way? Skiing? “I’m feeling generous,” Wynn says. “I’ll give you 15 minutes.” Cool. I dash into the bedroom, pull on my layers and return to the kitchen and find Siobhan drinking coffee with Kate and Wynn. “Why is everyone up? I don’t even go to work this early!” Siobhan says. “We’re skiing,” Wynn reminds. Siobhan shudders, “I know…but it is SO early. And I am still tired and cold,” she says in a cutesy voice. “Maybe it’s because you’re wearing summer weight cotton pajamas in winter?” I suggest and she laughs. “You guys, ever since I moved into my apartment four years ago I have not worn flannel pajamas. It is so hot I keep the windows open for months!” “You and me alike, sister!” I chime.

Chances are, if you rent in Manhattan, you live in a building built before the Stock Market Crashed in 1929. This means you most likely have a radiator heating system and NO ability to control it. So you spend winter living in an apartment that feels like an icebox and leaves you dreaming of Antigua. Or you live, as Siobhan and I do, sweating in it out in Santa Domingo wearing shorts and tank tops. Even more joyous for me is that my radiators leak and rot the wood floor when turned off and then the Super yells at me. So I leave them on full-blast. Ugh.

“Are we going to ski or what? Because I didn’t come here to sit around the house,” Wynn snarls unexpectedly. For a moment we all stop breathing as her biting tone sinks in. “Of course I’ll ski too,” Siobhan redirects lightly. “Just after I have some coffee and relax. I’ll be out on the slopes by noon.” “Then you only have four hours to ski,” Wynn argues. “And that is enough for me,” Siobhan states and stands up. She is a foot taller than Wynn. I glance over at Kate and make a face that says, “wow, two attorneys arguing at this hour? this just became unpleasant.” She nods and shifts her weight back and forth. “But I am not spending all this money to ski for four hours,” Wynn snaps. “Then you should go ski now. I’ll catch the shuttle and meet you. We don’t have to do EVERYTHING together,” Siobhan explains in a polite, flat nonsense tone.

I go back into the bedroom and pull on my pink puffy H&M down jacket I bought in London a few years back. It is more Spice Girls than Avid Skier but it will do the trick. Okay mountain, are you ready? Because here I come!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Kate swings her long legs over the arm of the couch and is captivated by her pink-cased Blackberry Pearl. “Who are you texting with such devotion?” Meg demands. We’re women so we know it’s a boy. We’re just curious as to which man has caught the eye of our pretty Ivy-league educated blonde friend.

“Charles,” Kate replies. “Annnnd? Details please,” Siobhan asks. “He’s from South Carolina and we had a date at Burritoville,” Kate states. “Ew, Chipotle would be better. Though I would not turn down a Taco Bell run,” I reply. “Agreed!” Siobhan says. “I like him but I don’t know what is going on. It’s ambiguous,” Kate says and sighs. “That’s Manhattan,” Meg replies in a singsong voice.

“Is it wrong to think Burritoville means he’s not serious?” Kate asks. “Not necessarily. Maybe it means he likes you enough to stop impressing you and do regular things,” I suggest. “Puke,” Wynn snaps. “You give Charles too much credit. All men are dogs.” I take to issue when people loosely use terms like “all”, “always” and “never”. Life is not an absolute. But I am too Midwestern polite to argue with Wynn, the attorney. She’s entitled to her opinion. And I am entitled to think she’s wrong.

“Wynn has a crush, too,” Kate shares. “Oooo,” Meg drawls, her big, blue eyes bright with delight. “Don’t get too excited. They guys I like, never like me back,” Wynn says dejectedly. My Town and Country dates come back to me and I sit up and clink glasses with Wynn. “Cheers to that! I have a TOTALLY different problem. Guys I never planned to like, woo me, make me like them and then disappear,” I share. Siobhan sighs, “You don’t know how relieved I am to learn that someone else has that problem too!”

“Y’all, stop being so hard on yourselves. I can’t stop seeing my ex. He’s fat and gross and most days I don’t even like him,” Meg says and pours more wine into her glass. Meg is adorable, southern, proper and kind. How exactly did a belligerent slob with a dirty bathroom (I am guessing) land a hot biscuit like Meg? “But I don’t want to be alone.” Ah, explanation, there you are and I so can relate. I put with and dated men like Reindeer, Town and Country, Indian Cowboy, and ODDBs because they were desi. And I can assure you, if a Brazilian, Chinese or Greek man behaved like that I would NEVER have tolerated it.

“It’s hard to be alone, but Meg you deserve more. We all do. Pretend like you are kicking smoking or going on a diet. Just say no more bad men!” I suggest. “We’re not all as strong as you,” Siobhan states. Is she is kidding me with this? Me strong? Has anyone been listening to my desi dating disasters? I haven’t even told any of them about Town and Country or what is going on with my job. “You have confused me with some other Desi Girl, because I am one fine, hot mess,” I reply. Siobhan swirls her red wine and says reflectively, “You’re a lot of things. But not hot mess. You keep putting yourself out there, each time further out than the last. Weak people don’t keep trying.” I shrug instead of reply. I have difficulty accepting compliments and kind words.

“I’m sort of seeing someone who has a famous family member,” Siobhan says. “I’m sure that pressure affects him. So I put with his moods and weird shit.” Her? Siobhan is SO smart, classy, refined, uber-educated and SHE’S dating a loser too? What is wrong with men in Manhattan? “That’s why I have a plan. If I don’t find HIM, then I’m going to get artificially inseminated and move to Dallas to raise the baby,” Wynn says nonchalantly like she’s delivering the weather, sunny, with a slight chance of rain. I, however, couldn’t do that. I have enough problems and don’t need the unforgiving wrath of desi society judging me for being a single mother. I mean, sure the goddess Sita did it, but what choice did she have after Rama banished her from the kingdom.

The fire dies down and Siobhan says, “You have to date a few bad ones to appreciate a good one when he comes.” “Do you think I’ll recognize him when he does?” I ask. “Let’s hope,” Siobhan says so solemnly it scares me.

Monday, August 2, 2010


The next morning, Meg and I meet in Union Square and complete the car rental application and paperwork, which includes the two of us FULLY inspecting the taupe Chevy Trailblazer. A ubiquitous Midwestern car not regularly found in Manhattan that screams “RENTAL”. Kate meets us there; we pick up Wynn and then head Uptown to liberate Siobhan from her office. It takes about 40 minutes to load five women, boots, bags, wine and snacks into the SUV. This includes the three minutes Siobhan (Post 136)  and I spend scooping up her things when one of her bags bursts open and the contents spill onto north-bound Park Avenue.

We make excellent time out of the City and 45 minutes later when we drive by the Target in West Nyack, we squeal in delighted unison. You would think we’re drooling over Harry Winston, but this requires no discussion. As a collective, we know Sunday’s return to the City will involve a bull eye’s pit stop. Men, please take note, there are occasions when dates are not as exciting as discount Bounty and faux leather home goods. This is because gummy bears and super sized boxes of tampons don’t disappoint, but dates sometimes do.

The five-hour car ride to Vermont (home of maple syrup and Howard Dean) is smooth and seamless. It is early evening when we arrive at our idyllic looking lodge with a snow-capped roof. I hop out of the car and breathe the pristine cool air. The trees with their anorexic branches are mesmerizing, etching dark lines against the silvery sky speckled with shiny stars. It has been a long time since I saw stars. It is one of the trade offs for living in Manhattan I guess. So I close my eyes and wish for the happiness I desperately need.

Our unit at the Trail Creek Condominiums, despite the décor being Precious Moments meets Country Living, is spacious and really quaint. I ignore the slightly musty and cigarette smell and scope out our digs for the next 48 hours. There is a HUGE kitchen (with a dishwasher – I almost forgot what they look like), two baths, two bedrooms and a loft space. Coming from tiny Manhattan apartments, the space is as mind numbing as the cold Vermont air. What do people do in all this space? Decorate? dance around nude? throw parties? I have no idea!

We pick rooms and then trek through knee-high snow to dine at the  Wobbly Barn. We return giddy from our dinner bill -- $120 with tip for ALL five of us. The same dinner would cost at least twice that in the City. Full and happy, Meg makes a roaring fire. The five of us, Siobhan, Wynn, Kate, Meg and I, put on our pajamas and lay around sipping wine. The heat and amber glow of the fire warms our feet, faces and souls. The curtains are open and we watch bright white flakes of new snow fall from the heavens. As I enjoy the peace, I am reminded why it is VERY IMPORTANT to get off that island every few months!

“Y’all, how great would s’mores be right now?” Meg asks in her southern accent. “So great!” I reply. “Oh. My. God. I am so full, but if we had them, I’d eat 50,” Siobhan says in a kid-like voice that makes me think of the little girls we once were. An exhausted and satiated silence falls over us. Like typical New Yorkers we reach for our phones to check text messages and emails. After a few minutes Siobhan sets her phone aside, smiles and asks, “What should we talk about next?” Meg smirks and says, “Uhm, boys!”

To be cont.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


A little after midnight I stuff the last piece of ski gear into my overnight bag. While I didn’t ski in Minnesota, I had, over time bought waterpoof snow pants, down jackets, gloves and hats. I set my luggage on the floor and wonder if Town and Country really had friends in from out of town. Gross. Why do I even care?

In many ways I am relieved to go on a ski trip despite lacking hand-eye-on-a-slippery-mountain-coordination. Life is interesting that way. My faith is so challenged right now and luckily God (under Durga’s influence no doubt) had a plan in place to ensure I wouldn't be alone, riding out this emotional low. Which is very good, because I have found Manhattan unforgiving when I am sad, lonely or depressed.

I really should crawl into bed, but I am so tired I worry sleep won’t find me. And it may be worse if it does find me. When I get this unsettled with everything, everything, everything bouncing around in my head --- work, Town and Country, my family, the hope that I don’t break my neck in Killington --- my subconscious manifests in dark, heavy dreams that leave me fearing my own thoughts.

To pass the time I make tea and rattle around my apartment. I stop to gaze at my baby photo framed in an oversized contemporary stainless steel frame hanging in my living room. She had black hair blanketing her head, bright eyes, chubby cheeks, smooth perfect skin and looked a life time of possibilities square in the eye.

Was her destiny to be more than this? Did I misstep and thwart her life as a surgeon? Did Mr. Right or Mr. Right Enough come along and I denied her a life as married with two kids, living in Rye, driving a Volvo, walking a dog she barely likes, and serving rotis to a balding, paunchy man? Would she be proud of how she turned out? Am I? Or did I miss chance, and let that little baby down?