Thursday, September 30, 2010


We finish lunch and the $32 bill comes. My half is $14 including tax and with a 20% tip, becomes $17. I leave a $20. Shashi Kapoor leaves $17 and says, “This is all the cash I have.” I don’t mind paying for myself but I am not making up the difference, especially since the waitress TOLD him in advance of eating that this was cash only. Why did he buy $20 worth of food and drink if he only had $17. I am momentarily tempted to remind him of the cash machine downstairs, but it's not my fault he's cheap or forgot his ATM card.

“How was your burger?” Shashi inquires when we leave HK. “Good. How was your salad?” I ask. “Good. I would have loved a burger, too, but you know,” he says and pats his stomach. Is he SERIOUSLY kidding me with this shit? He pulls a Jerry Seinfeld by ordering a SALAD on a DATE with a woman who orders meat and then MOCKS his date’s lunch, after stiffing the waitress's tip?

“Would you like to take a walk?” Shashi asks. Not really I think, but I reply with, “Sure if we walk Uptown. I'm headed in that direction.” I say this knowing he has to head downtown, but at this point I am not interested in him romantically and I don’t really care what he wants to do. “Okay,” he replies. 

We head up 9th Avenue, into Hell’s Kitchen, one of my favorite parts of Manhattan and I give him a guided tour of Desi Girl’s favorite restaurants. “Wow, I had no idea these places were here, they look great,” Shashi Kapoor says. “I never know who is willing to venture where in the City,” I share. I, for instance, will go anywhere including other boroughs. However, I have learned some people in Manhattan are parochial and live, eat and work in the same 10-block radius. Others think Manhattan ends at 96th Street, which is comical since Central Park’s north border is 110th Street and the famous Apollo Theatre is on 125th Street and I live at 181. With that said I have my quirks, too. While I love volunteering, I don't love going to the Upper East for our meetings because Central Park truncates my commute, making it cumbersome and annoying in inclement weather.

“I want a coffee, can we stop into Starbucks?” I ask. “I don’t like or drink coffee,” Shashi Kapoor says. Well, that’s fine and not what I asked him. I also never suggested that he buy one. And since he has no money, I’d have to buy it for him, which I have no intention of doing. Sidebar: I don’t eat tripe or pig’s feet, but I'm not telling that to someone about to order it.

Once I have my coffee we sit down. As I add Equal sweetener to my latte Shashi Kapoor says, “I can read palms.” He takes my hand and I smirk. Indeed, this is a clever way to hold a woman’s hand. “Your life line is long,” Shashi Kapoor begins. “How long?" I demand. This life isn’t going as I had anticipated so I hope to exit around 70-75, before my body and brain are ravaged by disease and dementia, and while I can still color my own hair. “Into your 90s.” Fuck that's a LOOOONG time. “Your luck line is good. It breaks in the middle but starts immediately. You're also very rational,” Shashi Kapoor says.
Well that is at least good new, though I am sure my brother would disagree. “And you're logical,” Shashi Kapoor adds. Okay, this FOR SURE my brother will disagree with. He likes to think he is the smart one, while I think to think I am the good-looking one. “You’re not really creative,” Shashi Kapoor says. Whaaaat? Why doesn’t he just throw me in front of a Bronx bound D train. I majored in architecture, love art and my passion is writing. How is that NOT creative?

While Shashi Kapoor can read palms he is no face reader. He hasn’t noticed that his words have literally wounded, more than mocking my lunch or telling me I am going to live into my 90s. “Your heart line is good," he says and presses the soft flesh of my palm under my thumb. “Wow. You’re very passionate.”
I know. I lead with my heart not my head. It’s why I let go of reason, rush into things with wild abandonment and end up as emotional road kill.

“This is interesting. For someone so passionate you have really only had one true romance,” Shashi Kapoor says and looks me straight in the eye. I know -- my college boyfriend. When I am honest with myself, that relationship challenged my dating faith and caused me to lose my ability to trust men at a far too early of an age. I worry my men will leave me just as I fall in love with them. Or that they view me as a time pass, waiting until someone hotter, smarter, richer comes along. It affected my self-esteem in a way that not much else could and time has not healed me. It's actually made me worse.

When my niece is older I will urge her date recklessly on her terms. She will have her whole life to be serious. College should be about learning, seeking and growing, not leaving scarred and fractured for years to come. But I do have faith that the romance with the Ex was not the last, but the first of many and I'm simply just a slow starter who is still searching for THE ONE.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I'm a few blocks away from HK when my phone rings. I rifle through my bag tottering in 3” heels along the busy and sketchy part of 9th Avenue. The proximity to the Lincoln Tunnel, Hudson Yards, Port Authority and Penn Station toughens the edges of this neighborhood. Which is a damn shame because the once pretty buildings have suffered due to pollution and lack of upkeep.

I flip open the phone, it’s Shashi Kapoor. I'm unable to answer and he doesn't leave a message. Interesting. I don't consider hang-ups to be calls, so my general policy is not to return them. If I did, I'd spend all day calling people asking if they hung-up. And I'd probably seem a little loony.

My stomach growls and then does a back flip from lack of nourishment. “Only one more block,” I tell my tummy and quicken my pace. Originally Shashi Kapoor and I agreed to meet at 1 pm. As I was getting ready to leave at 11:58 a.m. he called to say he was not going to make the noon train in from NJ and could we meet at 2:00 pm. When I agreed to the later meet time, I performed an Oscar award winning performance and quelled my annoyance. My grievance about the timing had nothing to do with him. It stemmed from the fact that I would NEVER ask anyone to accommodate me after we made plans, which is an underlying issue with Desi Girl. I don’t want to let anyone down, so I sometimes don’t advocate for myself. I did however, on the off chance that a romantic-finance-vegan-poet was nuts, plan an escape. Shashi Kapoor thinks I am meeting my volunteer counterpart at 5:30 pm on the Upper West Side so I will to skedaddle at 5:00 pm on the dot!

And I know, it’s naughty to lie, but after all the dates I have been on, survival and self-preservation are as important as putting yourself out there. Also I don’t want him to think I have endless time to talk to him today. I’d like to create some mystery about Desi Girl; because once you get to know me I'm about as subtle as a herd of elephants trampling across your summer picnic. When I am about half a block away I see him leave the restaurant and head west on 39th Street into the adjacent flea market. Because I think it would creepy to follow him, I go into the restaurant.

Six minutes later he calls, “Where are you?” “Inside the restaurant,” I reply coolly, then I ask, though I know the answer, “where are you?”
“I’m around the corner.”
He comes in dressed in a black leather jacket, jeans and a beige sweater with a half zip. I'm wearing jeans, a hot pink sweater, and brown boots that combine style with, get ready for it, comfort.

We sit down and immediately Shashi unzips his half-zip. Since he chose NOT to wear a tee-shirt or undershirt his action reveals a chest with not too much hair. This is TOO much information for a lunch date. “Hey there,” the waitress says. “We’re cash only. We have a machine downstairs.”

For a change I have cash, $26 to be exact, so I am sure whatever I order I can afford in case we go dutch. When it comes to desi dating nothing surprises me anymore. I reach for the menu and decide on the turkey burger and Diet Coke for $13 before tax. Shashi Kapoor orders an Asian salad and an iced tea for $17.

The restaurant has an industrial feel and is a little loud, but tolerable. Our food comes quickly and we chat. He tells me how peaceful and nice Jersey is and how he dislikes the City. Okay, it’s fine that he doesn't love the City. I get it Manhattan isn't for everyone. But do you really express that to someone who in fact LIVES, and might LOVE life in the City?

“Where do you live?” I ask. “I rent a room from a couple. It’s great, we cook and eat together,” Shashi Kapoor shares. Alrighty then...

To be cont.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Souten (movie poster)
I return from running refreshed, like someone soaked me in Vitamin C. Exercise really should be what I gravitate towards when I am down. The endorphin rush is more potent and addictive than alcohol, with none of the unwanted side effects.

I shower and wash my hair. Normally I dry it immediately because it’s stick straight and unruly without product. But I like the feel of my silky soft tresses against my face and skin, so today I let the strands air-dry. I sit down to work and hour into editing a proposal Shashi Kapoor emails.

SHASHI KAPOOR: Hi Desi Girl, I got your message last night...your voice comes across as very crisp and enthusiastic over the phone - I really like that! :) I worked late and sometimes my cell dies. Saturday for lunch works for me, how about you?

DESI GIRL: (He seems a little TOO excited by my voice. And his email address, which is, as in James Bond, has me again wondering why so many desi men are fascinated with the secret agent.) Great to getting the voicemail. Not so great to working late. Sure Saturday works.

SHASHI KAPOOR: It’s okay, work can be like that. How was your day? How was your meeting last night? I am sure you did well, considering you come across as a smart girl.

DESI GIRL: (He listens and remembers I had a volunteer meeting last night, impressive. He is also VERY quick and plentiful with the kind words. So is he desperate or really the financial romantic poet I have been searching for? One issue that plagues Desi Girl is that at the age of 8 she was seduced --- yes seduced. By what you ask --- oh I wish it was the ruthless pursuit of money or Barbie Dolls or wanting to become Punjab’s finest chicken tikki-wali. No, no, Desi Girl became and still remains infatuated with the melodrama of soap operas and Bollywood. I grew up on a steady diet of General Hospital, Dynasty and Dallas. This led to a keen devotion to Melrose Place, 90120, One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl. On the weekends when my soaps were off, my parents rented Bollywood videos and I got to watch Naseeb and Souten, which features one of my favorite Indian songs, where the actor Rajesh Khanna and sings to Tina Munim, shayad mere shaadi ka khayal? Meaning, perhaps her mother has invited him for tea and conversations about marriage. With playfulness in his eyes, Rajesh smiles and sings, how he WAS flying and free, like a bird, until unfairly caught in a net she has cast. The downside to the movie Souten (which means co-wife), is that no self-respecting desi woman wants to become one. There is something very taboo for a man to share a bed with a woman who has already shared hers with another man. Of course the rule does not apply to desi men with the same callous stigma). My day and meeting were good, thanks for asking. For Saturday how about meeting at HK around 1 pm? The addy is: 523 - 9th Avenue and 39th Street, northeast corner. The food is decent. 

SHASHI KAPOOR: You and yummy food together - sure will look forward to it!

Every email from Shashi Kapoor includes a sweet compliment and now expressive punctuation. Maybe, just maybe, there is some hope here. I should shush my inner cynic and embrace the impending, and perhaps, romantic date with Shashi Kapoor, a Punjabi-caste appropriate-vegan-banker-poet with a famous namesake.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Tuesday morning I wake up at 6:00 am, decide against the gym and roll over and close my eyes. I really SHOULD work out. But I feel restless, out of sorts, like I'm stuck in a broken habitrail. Working from home does not help. I spend hours alone, sometimes as many as 36 without human contact. Which sounds like it would be harder to do when you live in a town of 8 million, but for me, not so much.

Instinctively I know I should break free of this routine where I consume liquid and solid calories, wake up sluggish, avoid exercise and repeat. Broadway shows and restaurants, neither of which I mind doing alone, should be where I focus my energy. They are, after all, two things I love about New York. But the thought of getting ready and going downtown is massively demoralizing these days. And when I scroll through my phone I wonder, how, with so many friends, I have no one to call when I feel down. Maybe I am really just a loner disguised as an aging party girl.

It has become much easier to sit in my dark apartment eating chips and drinking wine. My local wine shop is an excellent enabler with their 10% discount for 5 or more bottles. So is Duane Reade with their 99¢ bags of Ruffles. This might be why I am engaged in a full-on battle with my clothes that cause me physical pain because they no longer fit. Spanx and sucking in my breath have stopped working as quick fixes to the problem. Buttons now leave indents in my skin long after I undress at night. You would think this is all the motivation Desi Girl needs to get off the couch and into the gym. But no, I prefer to stay up until 2:00 am watching Frasier, who makes me laugh and keeps me company. I wish I knew his phone number when I feel sad.

I know nothing can ail me without my consent. I also know I won’t meet anyone sitting in my apartment. But sometimes I lack fire and will. I find myself wondering what happened to that girl who packed up all of her stuff, took a chance on “what if” and moved to Manhattan.

Often times I think I should grab a book and eat dinner at a bar or restaurant and see who approaches me. Then what? Would I really date and bring a non-Indian home to meet Dad? I am finding dating to be EXHAUSTING and a vacuum where my good energy goes dead. I’m not dating for fun, I’m dating to get married, have kids and move to Westchester. Maybe there is some merit to arranged marriages, but that thought is equally depressing.

Life won’t happen to me if I continue to lie on the couch. So I pull the blanket away and get up. I brush my teeth and make coffee. While the java brews I dig around the kitchen and take inventory of my sundries. Crackers, cheeses, chips, chocolates, ramen noodles, cream and wine. Hhhmm. No fruit, veggies or dairy. I need to buy sensible things like milk, yogurt, and whole grains. I dart back to the living room, turn on the computer and place an online grocery delivery for tomorrow. I log off and I decide to run.

I used to joke that I don’t believe in the religion of running, unless, of course, my house was on fire. But right now breathing the Manhattan morning into my body sounds like what I need. I pull on track pants and tennis shoes. I always thought people who ran were running away from something. But maybe runners are running towards something new. Maybe I need to run towards a fresh routine, sleep more, eat and drink less, run and repeat.

I lock the apartment and step outside into a deliciously cool and brisk morning. I head down 181st Street and towards the footbridge and jog along the Hudson River. My feet pound against the pavement and I draw long breaths into my lungs. I feel invigorated, fueled with the belief that I am running towards a better day wrapped in hope and laced with faith.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


After a while, Manhattan stops shocking you. Outrageous housing costs, piles of garbage on the street and the sound of every language are the norm. And no one I know lives like Monica, Rachel, Carrie or Charlotte.

Because there are so many of us living in tight, cramped quarters, I don’t flinch when cranes collapse in Midtown or East Harlem buildings fall into the Metro North tracks. Five alarm fires in Chinatown make me grateful to the FDNY. The increased rate of “suspicious” incidents and traffic tangles created by the United Nations sessions remind me how fast the NYPD can respond. What I don’t understand are the NJ Transit trains that seem to short-circuit every other week. Is this America or India?

Crazy people, too, are a part of the urban fabric. Which is what I am thinking when a man with wild eyes wearing a long pimp trench coat and Dr. Seuss hat boards my train car and sits kiddie corner from me. I have my iPod on blasting bhangra music so I cannot hear what he is screaming. Because it is BEST not to engage the crazies, I pull my book out of my bag. Crazy Man keeps yelling and I feel tension in the train car rising. Everyone breaths very slowly, their bodies shift and twitch. Discomfort amongst New Yorkers is hard to bring about, which prompts my curiosity and I pause my iPod for a listen.

Crazy Man gets up and moves towards a couple with two kids. He begins speaking to the older kid, who looks genuinely uncomfortable. The couple speaks Spanish in a low hushed voice, avoiding sudden movements, and slowly pulling their children onto their laps. Crazy Man looks around and begins shouting, “Does this train go to Brooklyn? I said, does this train go to Brooklyn?” He sounds like a cross between a used cars salesman and TV evangelist. And yes, the A train does go to Brooklyn. However, we’re on an Uptown A train going local to Inwood. I doubt anyone in the train car is going to tell him he’s going in the wrong direction.

Crazy Man returns to his seat and tries speaking to the woman to his left. She is stealth and ignores him. He decides to pull her hat off her head. Hhhmm. She grabs her hat from him and shifts away, putting a foot of space between them. He slides over and smiles at her. She snaps her book shut and snarls, “Look. I know you are not crazy like you’re pretending. You need to stay the hell away from me and don’t touch me again.” Her voice is razor sharp, strong enough to cut steel.

As we roll into the Upper West Side or as I like to call it, Yuppieville, a woman in a red velvet track suit boards. She stands in front of me, waits for the train doors to shut and begins talking, “Excuse me. Sorry to bother you but today is my 50th birthday and instead of partying I am riding the train because I used to be a crack addict until I found God.” While she talks about her addiction, her brief stint as a prostitute and how God saved her from dumpster diving for dinner, Crazy Man continues pestering the woman whose hat he yanked.

The result is the dueling crazies have divided and distracted our attention and we don’t know who to focus on. Crazy Woman stops talking and turns to stare at Crazy Man, who is again ready to pluck his neighbor’s hat off her head. Crazy Woman shakes her head, takes two swift steps and stands before Crazy Man. She grabs him by the neck and slams his head into the subway wall. Ouch! Everyone stops breathing. Oddly enough the crazy man looks sexually aroused. Crazy Woman screams, “When she said leave her alone that is what you do. Don’t you fucking touch her again. Don’t you dare fucking touch her again. Or I will…” He smiles and then laughs, deep and robust.

As if lightening struck Crazy Woman, she steps away and looks around, horrified. “What have I done? God please forgive me,” she says and moves towards the train doors. “I have to go back to church. Please pray for me, I must repent,” she babbles over and over, until the train stops at 96th Street and she gets off.

The train starts again and Crazy Man stands up and screams, “Does this train go to Brooklyn? I need to find my son! Does this train go to Brooklyn?” When we stop at 103rd Street, he gets off and collectively EVERYONE in the full train car breathes again.

And once again, normalcy returns.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


“Are you ready for the puja?” I ask and push my plate away. “Yes, having Rohit’s mom here is a huge help.” “Does she like hanging out with Rohit and Doggie?” I ask. Rohit and Meera rescued Doggie, I am sure that is why Broke Back’s compassion resonates with her. “Yes! She loves her grand-dog! I felt a little bad that I am not spending time with her, but I haven’t seen you in ages!” Meera says. “Don’t feel bad. I am sure Auntie understands,” I reassure. “Rohit’s a cool dude. Stands to reason his family is, too."

The waiter stops by and says, “Can I get you ladies anything else?” “Nothing for me, thanks,” I reply. To my surprise Meera does something atypical and orders a second glass of wine. When her wine comes she takes a long sip and sets it down. “I have something to tell you,” she says. Something I can’t read and have never seen before flashes through her eyes. Her tone is very, very serious, it at once excites and terrifies me. Either really good or really bad news is about to come.

Because I am a bit of a desi drama queen, I like to worry about things I have no control over and give myself cardiac arrest. Well she can’t be pregnant because she’s drinking. There is the off chance she needs my organizational help, but that would not bring forth such a somber tone. Oh dear, what if she tells me they are moving out of New York City? She is my partner in crime, where will I find another Meera who loves me unconditionally in a town of 8 million? No no, they CANNOT be moving, they JUST bought an apartment. Then dread washes over me and settles in my stomach, it is bad news and I regret not ordering a second glass of wine. “What?” I finally ask.

“Rohit is sick,” Meera says. “What?” I demand. I can feel the start of tears in the corners of my eyes, but I will not allow myself to cry. I need more details and must find a way to be strong for my friend. And why did we waste an hour talking about stupid desi men? She takes a minute to collect herself and says, “He has a tumor.”
OMFG. Please don’t let it be cancer. Cancer is mean. And I hate cancer. I cannot wait around and watch cancer ravage my friend. We have to attack the cancer now! “We don’t know if it is cancer,” Meera explains. I have no ability to disguise my thoughts or feelings so I know she can read the panic spreading across my face. “He has to have surgery and we’re meeting with the doctor next week. Everyone but his mom knows,” she says.

I am atypically stone cold silent. “Rohit told a few of his friends. He didn’t want you to learn about from someone else so he asked me to tell you,” Meera explains. “How long have you known?” I ask. “A couple of weeks,” she says. I shake my head. “You better tell your husband if he does this again, I’m going to kick his ass,” I say, trying to be funny, but choke. “How are you holding up?” I ask.
 She sighs and says, “I’m okay. It’s hard. You spend all your life looking for your ONE TRUE LOVE. You get settled and happy and then…” she says quietly.

I reach across the table and grab her hand, giving it a tight squeeze. Now it is my turn to be a good friend, which means I don’t get to fall apart. I need to be strong and supportive. “You know what? I just decided he will be fine. There is simply no other option for him,” I say and smile, forcing confidence through my tone. I refuse to let my mind wander to worst-case scenarios. We are WAY too young. Meera forces a smile, nods and says, “I know. It’s just…”

She doesn’t have to say anything. I know. Sometimes life is unspeakably unfair.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Finally, I have secured alone time with Meera. As I duck into La Grolla she texts to say she is leaving Harlem. She and Rohit have finally moved into their apartment and are having a puja (house blessing) this weekend. Slowly their parents and siblings are making their way to the City. Rohit’s mom is already here.

The restaurant smells like garlic and is quaint, two rooms, one dedicated completely to dining and the other with the hostess stand, bar and a few tables adorned with white linen and votive candles, which sometimes scare me. Gas stoves and pressure cookers also instill fear in me. Last year a woman on the East Side was making tea and the sleeve of her robe got too close to the flame. She lit herself on fire. Pressure cookers are no better. They make that strange noise like an angry locomotive and the little top hisses and spews a hot spray of steam. I feel certain the pot is waiting to get me alone and propel itself across the across the kitchen and knock me out. I can already see the headlines of my accidental demise: DESI GIRL MORTALLY MAIMS SELF IN UNEXPLAINED PRESSURE COOKER AND GARBANZO BEAN INCIDENT.

The hostess leads me to a table and I sit with my back to the window so I can spot Meera when she arrives. This also allows Meera to have the better seat, the “power seat”. The waiter comes by and I order a glass of red wine. I almost order a bottle, but I don’t want Rohit’s mother thinking Meera and I get wasted on random Thursday evenings.

Meera breezes in ten minutes later wearing her signature smile, a gorgeous green raincoat and an umbrella folded under her arm. The experts say a smile is the best accessory a woman can wear, and with Meera it is so true. I have YET to see her take a bad photo. “Sorry I’m late. The train was slow and it started raining,” she explains and sits down. “No problem,” I reply and turn around to see a light sprinkle darkening the sidewalk outside. “So how is dating going?” Meera asks. “I have a date with Shashi Kapoor coming up,” I say casually. “As in the Bollywood actor?” Meera asks, slightly amused and sips her water. See I am not the only one who thinks Bollywood! “Yes. He’s an aspiring vegan poet,” I share. She rolls her eyes, “Where do you meet these people?"

The waiter comes by and we order dinner. “Then there is Broke Back. He rescues animals and has like eight of them,” I say and sit back in my chair to watch Meera’s face. She is quiet for a moment, then her face breaks out into a smile and she says, “Love him. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him. But not for you. What are you doing to with all those animals?” she asks and shakes her head. “What about that other guy?” “What other guy?” I ask. There have been so many I may have to make pie charts and diagrams to keep them straight. Shoot I hope I didn’t let THE ONE fall through the cracks! “The one from Texas in the Hermes suit,” Meera reminds. “Him?” I gasp, shocked and stunned at the suggestion. “He’s a serial skinny dater. He’d find you chubby and you don’t weigh a 100 pounds!” She makes a face, shifts in her chair and sighs. She’s wearing a very cute dress, one that flatters her lean, trim frame. So unfair! I think and stuff pasta covered in cheese into my mouth.

“Any word from Town and Country?” she asks. “Nope,” I reply. “I find him to be the strangest of them all. He fills all his time and space with you and then disappears. I don’t get it!” Meera says puzzled and shakes her head. “And he’s perfect for you. He’s smart, Punjabi and clearly there's a connection.” “Yeah, well he’s the desi Houdini,” I reply flatly and dip bread in oil. Like a true friend Meera replies with, “His loss.”

To be cont.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Aishwarya Rai
When I contacted Shashi Kapoor, I also contacted Broke Back Upstate, 43, never married and from his photos he is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good looking. He is fair, very fair actually, with brown hair, sharp chiseled almost Aryan features and green eyes like Aishwarya Rai, the former Miss World and current Bollywood goddess.

“I live in Rochester, do you know where that is?” Broke Back asks. Okay. I get it. City people think the world ends at the Hudson River or some cases, 96th Street. But I am not from New York and contend with New Yorkers saying to me, “You’re from Minnesota? Oh that’s fly over space.” So I find his mocking so early in our courtship unnecessary and reply with, “I presume you mean Rochester, New York. But when I think of Rochester I think of the famous one. In Minnesota. You know where the Mayo Clinic is.” I mean really, if he wants to play this dickhead game. Fine. I intend to win. I’m tired of being a desi chump.

“Yes that’s right. I forget that you could be well rounded and more evolved than the average New Yorker,” he says.
Yikes. Doesn’t he know there are just some things you keep INSIDE your head? Or maybe he tried to compliment me, and it backfired. Rather than dwell on what might be wrong with Broke Back, I ask, “How long have you been in Rochester?” “Long time. We grew up in Karnataka; my father is from Bangalore…” this might explain the green eyes. “…And my mother is from Iowa…” and this explains the light skin and gorgeous facial features.

“So do you like Rochester?” I ask. If we get along will I be expected to move there? Because it seems colder and less appealing than Minneapolis. “I love it,” he says. Oh crap, I think. “I have a nice house in the woods so I take the dogs out every morning.” Dogs? My brother and I had gold fish when we were younger. They died after my brother added aftershave to the water because he wanted them to smell nice. “How many dogs?” I ask. “Four. And I have cats, too.” What the f***. Who are these people running zoos from their homes? I wonder if Broke Back is related to the Crazy Lady in my building. “Wow, you must love animals,” I manage to say. “Yeah. My girlfriend rescued animals and we took in the ones who couldn’t be placed. But we just broke up and she could only take two cats so I have the rest.” One, while I am NOT NOT NOT a pet person I think it’s great they rescue animals. Two, I learned from the Town and Country mess that Desi Girl must proceed with EXTREME caution when dealing with a desi man recently out of a relationship.

“Laundry is kind of nightmare with the animals. The love to hide in the freshly washed clothes and shed on everything. I suppose breaking my back doesn’t help,” Broke Back says. “Excuse me?” I ask, wondering if I heard him correctly. “I used to ride motorcycles.” 
“Like Harleys and Hell’s Angels in Sturgis?” I ask. Broke Back laughs, “I forget that you would know about Sturgis…” What is with his sideswipe comments? “No, European bikes. But I got hit by a bus and broke my back.” “Can you sit in a chair?” I ask. “I can now. Took a long time. I haven’t worked in years.” Oh dear God. I’m a control freak and this man sounds like my polar opposite. Dogs, cats and no job.

“I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. I’ll be coming to the City next weekend, could we meet?” Broke Back asks. “Sure. My mother will be here though, but I won’t bring her along.” “Thank God. For a moment my heart skipped a beat because I am not ready to meet parents,” Broke Back says. Please. My mom is some really cool peeps. What makes him think he is good enough to meet her? “Don’t worry. I’m not ready for that either. Besides I am in the throes of mommy-proofing my apartment.”
“What exactly does that entail?” Broke Back asks. I hear amusement in his voice. “Sounds dirty right? Mostly cleaning so my neat freak mother doesn’t thing her only daughter is a slob,” I reply. “Okay good. I imagined sex toys and hand-cuffs!” Broke Back exclaims.

Maybe. Some day. Only if he’s lucky.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Shashi Kapoor, Bollywood Legend
Shashi Kapoor calls the next day and shares his entire life story: where he was born, raised, schooled, lived and worked. This is followed by his declaration of being very fit and health conscious. I manage to tell him that I work out mainly so I can eat out. As we talk I find myself tuning in and out of the conversation, thinking about his namesake. The original Shashi Kapoor (see photo to the right) was a member of the Kapoor clan, a mighty Bollywood dynasty dominating the film industry long before India gained independence.

Prithviraj Kapoor’s three sons, Raj, Shammi and Shashi, were the gods of black and white cinema ‘back in the day’. Their sons Randhir and Rishi joined the family Bolly business in the 80s and now Prithviraj’s great-granddaughters Karishma and Kareena shake and shimmy across the big screen with hunky heroes like Shahrukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan. From reading the filmi magazines I have learned that Kareena rivals Lindsay Lohan with her out of control antics. And every time I visit India it seems that when Delhites aren’t watching movies or staging political riots, they are glued to the telly praying India destroys Pakistan in a 10-hour cricket match. Leaving me to believe the three religions of India are: Bollywood, politics and cricket.

Shashi Kapoor is talking and asks, “Do you like tea?” Focus! I’m still on the phone. “Yes, it’s fine. But I prefer coffee,” I reply. “I don’t drink coffee. Or alcohol that much,” Shashi Kapoor shares. I swear, if he bashes Diet Coke this is SO OVER. I will TOTALLY hang up on him. “What kind of tea? Darjeeling?” I ask. “Oh no, green. And no milk, I’m staying away from dairy. I’m trying to be vegan,” Shashi Kapoor explains.

Amitabh Bachchan
Ugh. I am at a loss. We’re Punjabi. We were put on the planet to eat, drink and be merry, while wearing blindingly-bright bling. So I return my thoughts to Bollywood and the amazing Amitabh Bachchan. This man is a modern day desi Zeus. He wins Filmfare Awards, was elected to Parliament, hosted a game show and from Hondas to helicopters, and can sell anything. The paparazzi stalk him like he’s the son of God and I’ll bet his security detail is tighter than the Prime Minister Singh’s. I swear Amitabh could promote beef patties and vegetarians would buy it. Well, maybe not, but almost.

“Can we meet some time?” Shashi Kapoor asks. Why do I keep tuning him out? “Sure, sounds great. When?” I ask and wonder if he’s interested because I seem aloof, wrapped in Bollywood thoughts. Maybe I should always busy my brain when on the phone with desi men as a means of capturing their attention. “How about lunch tomorrow?” Shashi asks. “Sorry, I have yoga. What about the evening?” I suggest. “No, I have a poetry reading. Did I tell you I’m a poet?” Lordy. I can see it now. SPOTTED: DESI GIRL AND SHASHI KAPOOR CANOODLING OVER GREEN TEA, CARROT STICKS AND POE. “What about next Saturday?” Shashi Kapoor asks. “Perfect,” I reply.

I have seven days to banish all thoughts of Bollywood legends from my head!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Normally I don’t contact younger men. Though, there are times, many times, I think I should. Rohit married Meera when he was 32 and in the “interested to get married” phase. Maybe I need to catch desi men before they become “emotionally stunted, unable to commit, pretend to date me, and then ultimately disappear.”

Today’s prospective groom is: “letsattemptthis” and writes: “Let’s talk and see where it goes... hopefully shaadi. I am pretty focused on getting married, just waiting to meet the right person. More details about me when we meet.” Additional profile details reveal he is 34, athletic, fair, Punjabi, in finance, eats meat and drinks alcohol. I decide to contact him, not because I am deluded and think he will marry me, but I hope he’s not full of shit like his predecessors and actually serious about this. Besides, given the sad state of my romantic affairs, I am in NO position NOT to consider a man who claims to be waiting for the “right person”. In my note of interest I include my email address and request for photos.

Almost immediately, “letsattemptthis”, aka Shashi Kapoor, writes back and requests my contact information. And yes, Shashi Kapoor is his name, like the old black and white Bollywood actor. This triggers me to remember one of my favorite Bollywood movie scenes in Dil, with Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit. In the movie, Aamir slinks into Madhuri’s bedroom late one night, wakes her, breaks a wooden chair, lights it on fire and makes a crude havan (wedding fire). As the chair burns Aamir cuts his finger and lets the blood drip onto the part of Madhuri’s hair, a temporary sundoor (desi women wear red powder to signify they are married). She ties her dupata (long scarf) to the shawl draped over his shoulders and they make the seven rounds around the fire, vowing themselves to one another in marriage. Of course her parents (who do not approve of Aamir) are sleeping in other room and don’t hear a sound.

Shoot! Is every communication with Shashi Kapoor going to invoke Bollywood melodrama for me? I click open the email and review his photos. He is decent looking, not what I would call fair, but who cares. One photo is a headshot in which he wears a blue button down against custard walls. The other is of him smiling, sitting on a couch with his mobile phone drawn to his ear wearing a wife beater. I hope he was doing laundry and ALL his clothes were dirty. Why else does anyone send that of all snaps?

While I’m liberated, I do think a man should call first. I email back, thanking him for the photos and send my contact information. And then, I wait, hoping he is the hero of my Bollywood movie!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


After brunching, bra shopping and Bloomies, Wynn, Kate and I part ways. We live in three different directions, Brooklyn, Upper East Side and Washington Heights. I however want to walk around a little and wander into my favorite section, men’s fragrance. I love it more than the shoe department. This is mostly because some of these Manhattan shoe departments are so big they have their own zip code (no joke).

Everyone has a physical trigger that causes arousal and mine is a man who wears cologne correctly coded for his skin type. This is turn on number one! The right scent on a man, even a stranger can literally make my knees quiver and my heart race. The second most alluring thing about a man is the sound of his voice. I prefer men with voices that are rich, deep and liquidy thick – a seductive sound that steals my breath and traps me like a bubble of India ink at the end of a pen. This is then followed by shoulders, preferably in a sport coat or suit jacket.

After smelling Versace and Tom Ford for men I leave Bloomingdale's and cross Lexington. I turn to take one last look at the mother-ship and sigh. If I ever move from New York (who knows where life takes you), I will miss this flagship store in addition to, of course, Broadway shows (that I mostly don't see) and restaurants (that I mostly cannot afford).

As I head west I debate walking to Columbus Circle for the A train running local (welcome to weekends in New York) or catching the M4 bus that drops me off IN FRONT of my building! While I consider my transport options a giant blonde man steps on my toe and keeps walking. Damn German tourists! I won’t miss them screaming at the top of their lungs. Don’t they use “indoor” voices in Berlin? I continue and out-pace tourists from Kansas (I know this because they are wearing Jayhawks gear) craning their necks at the tall buildings -- I won’t miss them either!

Today transport luck does not elude me and a nearly EMPTY M4 bus stops in front of me. I smile at the driver and say, “Hello! How are you?” As the machine deducts fare from my Metro Card, he smiles and says, “Very good, thanks for asking.” I have ridden this bus A LOT so I know how rudely some people speak to the drivers, which I never understand. The dude is driving a HUGE bus in Manhattan that you are on; your life is kind of in his hands. 

I take a seat and watch the Madison Avenue shops zip by. I am trying to get excited about going home to cyber groom hunt. I have somehow convinced myself that I will marry a man whose last name begins with an “S”. Off the top of my head I have dated (and tried on) the following surnames: Shingala, Suri, Sethi, Sheth, Singh, Sadana. I don’t know if this is because “s” is one of the most commonly used letters or if a large quantity of desi surnames begins with “s”.

I sigh and prompt my iPod for some hip-hop bhangra music. I’ll be home in 45 minutes. Let’s see what the future has in store for me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Three days later as I ready for the brunch, bras and Bloomies outing I feel more zen with myself. Thankfully my anxiety attack on the 125th Street subway platform is a distant memory. Today I feel in control, potent, powerful. I can formulate a list of my skills, talents and quirks: excellent cook, tidy, funny, witty, intelligent, mad-ass organizational skills, good friend, obedient daughter, loving sister, world’s greatest aunt, fashion sense, not homeless, not paralyzed, decent writer, cute enough to kiss. Perhaps I need to chill out and not obsess about things like a possible solitary existence with cats, kaftans and Cutty Sark. Real love is like real people, imperfect, flawed and on its’ own timeline.

As I brush my hair I run a mental inventory of my closet and decide to wear a turtleneck and jeans tucked into boots. I am inspired by late nights with Chrissy Snow (from Three’s Company). Once dressed, I put on my make-up, wish that my eyelashes were a tad longer, but thank Durga for flawless skin.

I pad out of the bathroom, through the living room and into the entryway. This walk takes less than seven seconds. My apartment is that small. In the manner of a musical conductor I pull the camel colored boots out of the closet, tug my knee-high socks over my jeans and zip my right foot into the boot. With a little fanfare I reach for the left boot and zip. Halfway the zip stops. Hhmmm, that’s odd I think and presume my jeans are caught in the 15-inch zipper. No biggie I think and unzip an inch, smooth down the denim and tug up. I underestimate my state of “stuckness” and the hard jerking motion challenges my balance and I topple over.

“Well that is no good,” I think, stand and decide not to wear these boots. I take off the right one and toss it back in the closet. I begin to unzip the left one and nothing happens. I tug a few more times but my fingers must be too oily. I go back into the bathroom, one boot up, one boot not up, and get some baby powder, dry my fingers and try again. Nothing. Maybe I need some torque.

Professor Mendelssohn would be so proud that remember his physics lecture. I bring my calf to my mouth and use my teeth to try and tug the zip. Yes, I am that flexible. No this does not work and almost breaks my tooth, which would not make my dentist proud. I go back into the kitchen and rip open a new pack of dishwashing gloves. And again nothing. I open my little girl tool kit and grab the pliers. “This should do it,” I think and try pulling the zip down. Nothing, nothing, nothing!

I glance at the clock. Small beads of sweat cap my forehead like a tiara. I am meeting Kate and Wynn in 45 minutes at the Neptune Room. While I hate to be late, I hate becoming a fashion victim even more: SPOTTED: DESI GIRL, WHO CLEARLY DOES NOT HAVE A MIRROR, LIGHTS OR FRIENDS, WHY ELSE WOULD SHE BE IN PUBLIC BRUNCHING HALF STUCK IN HER BOOT? 

Argh! I stomp into my bedroom and sit on the bed. I lift weights; surely I can pull this freaking boot off. I grab both sides of my foot and give a sharp tug. More nothing. My freaking foot is so freaking stuck in my freaking boot I don’t think the Allied Forces at Normandy could free my little piggies from leather! I decide to pin the leather and pull my jeans over the boot and find a cobbler later, but my jeans are as stuck in the boot as my toes. What the FREAK is going on?

It may not seem like it, but trying to liberate your foot from your boot is quite a workout. I have managed to melt off my make-up, sweat through my tee-shirt and dampen my cashmere sweater. Ew and ick. Now I need a wardrobe change too. Lordy.

When I decide making brunch on time is a must, I again do the unspeakable and grab the scissors. Only this time I want to cry. These are my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE boots. I actually got pleasure from cutting myself out of those wildly painful foot traps (see Post 154).  But now, with the scissor blades slowly closing in on the supple leather I feel physical pain. For someone who loves shoes more than food it seems like 31 shades of wrong to experience this.

I sigh and stare at that the ceiling, “Okay, God are you listening? When I die we’re SO chatting about my life’s injustices. I’m not thrilled about being short, having these thighs or waiting around for the MTA to fix the A train tracks. But really? My boots? You’re going for the jugular here. And I know you can hear me!” I snap.

This is the SECOND time I have cut myself out of shoes. Only this time I am stone sober and sad to lose the closest thing to kids I have. They say things happen in threes, but if lose one more pair of shoes in this shoe cursed apartment I am SO moving.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Kate and I are speechless. We’re having french fries and wine after our volunteer meeting listening to Wynn tell us her bra size. “What? I’m a B cup,” Wynn assures. Kate and I look at each other, then at Wynn’s chest. “There is NO possible way I wear a bigger size than you! You are bigger than a B,” I insist. “It’s because I’m short my boobs look big,” Wynn redirects. Again Kate and I exchange glances. Without being crass, the three of us are in the “breastly way”. None of us can consider going into public braless.

"Want me to take my bra off and show my size?” Wynn offers. Even though we’re in a French bistro, I feel that being half naked is still inappropriate and say, “No. I don’t want you to do that. And I believe you think you’re a B.” Kate nods. Wynn rolls her eyes and points at our chests, “Sorry to shatter your bubbles, but neither of you are really that big." She shakes her head and continues, “Just like for men, size matters and women want to be big. Don’t you think those fancy bra makers are just flattering the client. There is nothing wrong JC Penney and Sears bras.” Clearly she has recently left the island because there is no Sears in Manhattan. “Well I will take whatever flattery I can get, but this has nothing to with that. The girls need support and high-end bras are worth the money. You need to be sized by a professional,” I argue. “Yeah, well I am not wearing any old lady bras,” Wynn warns. Kate picks up her wine and looks the other way. She doesn’t want to tell Wynn that when complete coverage is required, sometimes fashion has to go out with the way of the do-do bird.

“We'll go to Bra Smythe and find something you can tolerate,” I suggest kindly. Kate nods. “I have plenty of nice bras,” Wynn argues one last time. With a hefty sigh, I finally get tough love with Wynn and say, “But your bras don’t fit you.” “Agreed,” Kate says excitedly and then adds, “We can do brunch! I’ll even find a place! A weekend without brunch is sad!" “Bacon and bras works for me! Wynn, what about you?” I ask. She shrugs in defeat and says, “I don’t know how you bitches can eat brunch every week and stay slim.” “Wynn, you will feel so sexy once you get into the right intimates,” I promise and raise my glass, “Let’s toast to securing the jugglies!” Kate and Wynn raise their glasses. We get looks from the people at the next table but don’t care. I wonder if men get excited to shop for jock straps. “And Bloomingdales! Let’s go there, too!” Kate squeals.

They had me at bras and brunch, but the addition of Bloomingdales, the mother ship that calls me home, seals the deal. My inner Barbie is hot pink and ready to shop Manhattan style!

Monday, September 13, 2010


At the 125th Street subway station I step off the A train and cross the platform for a B/C. I am en route to another volunteer meeting, but today I feel light-headed from stirring myself into a soup of crazy, and then serving it with insomnia on the side.

For the past three days I’ve been waking up between 2:45 and 3:52 a.m. racked with worry, stressing about future events and things that I have no control over; will my landlord jack my rent up when I renew in 6 months and why do blueberries cost $4. Thankfully I have Jack, Chrissy and Janet’s antics to entertain me. And because my brother and I were NOT allowed to watch Three’s Company (as if a show depicting a man living with two women was the worst thing in the world) I am seeing most episodes for the first time. However the commercials are current and boring, leaving me with plenty of time to wonder what the hell I am doing in New York. When I moved here 18 months ago, I really believed I’d be married and in Westchester by now. Yet while I continue to date I wonder, can I do married with kids?

I have always adored kids, but I question my ability to raise one because a child is the ultimate commitment and sacrifice. This is not an apartment you move from when a better one comes along. You can’t dump a child like a lover without the State of New York getting involved. And when that child hurts or is sick you are utterly helpless, ready to give your health up for theirs. As my uterus grows dusty from lack of use I really don’t know if I am selfless enough to want kids. I am combative so in the event I had kids I would be hopped on puppie (a Punjabi yuppie) PTA mom rage demanding that Huck Finn be put back on the library shelves.

But a life sans les bebes complicates desi dating because most desi mother-in-laws expect their daughter-in-law(s) to produce two grandkids. This is in addition to living with their son, which also scares me shitless. I have been single so long, coupled with exacting standards; I wonder if toilet seats and toothpaste tubes will incite World War III, Desi Girl style.

The C train comes and I take a seat across from the poster of the NYC map. “Never sit in front of the subway map,” Jack warned when I first moved here. “Why?” I asked. “Men pretend to look at the map so they can shove their cocks in your face.”

I glance at a couple sitting on the other side of the train. They’re holding hands and exchanging glances, which makes remaining upbeat and feeling fortunate for what I have very difficult. Despite the repeated burials, my self-doubt always seems to surface when I least expect it. I am not a gambling woman; Atlantic City and Vegas have no appeal to me. I am a cautious, meticulous person for whom packing and moving to America's hardest City to meet a man was brazen and bold. And seemed right at the time, but was it a mistake?

Should I have married my first boyfriend Tom? So what if his family wished I was Christian. He didn’t care. Too bad I did, too. As I dated Tom I could hear the aunties in the grapevine. “Did you hear? Desi Girl did shaadi with a gora (white). Her parents are so embarrassed/humiliated/despondent/insert adjective here.” Clearly the aunties were either in denial or hadn’t notice that they followed their husbands to Minnesota, heavy on the lakes, light on the desis. But I contributed to the madness when I let Tom go even though I knew he would have treated me so well. It mattered more what the sari-clad temple-going cows thought of my parents’ reputation and me, rather than what I thought.

Perhaps I should have forgiven my college ex who genuinely loved me. But at 23, recently graduated, ready to face the world, it is easy to judge someone for cheating on you even if they had uncontrollable issues. Unfortunately I was too concerned with becoming that pathetic woman who stands by her man. Any why didn't I go into law? That is what I ALWAYS wanted to do (other than write).

I don't really believe in regret, but every chance I have, late at night, on the subway, when I eat dinner alone, I cannot not stop obsessing about roads and directions I could have taken, should have taken, wondering which turn could have avoided ending up here, on the corner of Disillusioned and Disappointed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Money Star
When it comes to money there really are only two types of people, savers and spenders. My parents and brother are savers and they excel at resisting retail temptation. Their financial prowess and dedication to saving for monsoon days also makes them very desi. Desis, in general, are excellent with money management, which is why many of them become rich and go Republican.

I am not ONLY a spender, but the worst kind of spender because I deluded myself into thinking I am a saver. This leads me to believe I am in control of my lusty desire. I mean it’s not like I spend money on technology. I JUST upgraded my phone to include data, camera and text functions. But not a Blackberry, I am not addicted to my phone like other New Yorkers. My six-year old television, which has been mocked by the Banker, Rohit and Meera, is a perfectly fine working 13” inch Sony. I’m not a movie buff, and prefer to read or watch 10 hours of Law & Order. Music is something I no longer invest in as I have over 300 CDs spread out in two states, New York and Minnesota. So see, I have practical leanings.

Carless in the City saves me money on gas, insurance and oil changes. Most certainly I don’t carry Bottega bags that cost more than my Washington Heights rent. Yes, yes, I am a slave to my manicures, but they are dispensable if necessary. I shudder to think of that tragic mani-less day. Waxing, however, is a must. I cannot run around Manhattan with a uni-brow nor have hairy arms that rival Hanuman. It is also best not to have a moustache bushier than my desi date. So see, all is good and fine, I live within my means. Until I sit in front of the computer and review my online credit card statement.

During the first few minutes I convince myself that the $2,437.21 bill was accrued by someone other than me. Yes, that MUST be it. So I scroll through the charges and last month flashes by my eyes. Uh-oh. I read an article that said carry-alls, pink, ruffles, platforms, and chunky jewelry were the trend for Spring. This must be why I have a charge from J. Crew. And oh yes, Ann Taylor had a coupon sale. Oh my, I don’t remember going to Bloomingdales. Oh shoot, Macy’s had a shoe sale. Then that New York Times best seller went paperback, hard covers are too much of a weight commitment for me. Oh yes, Siobhan and I had sushi at a Zagat rated West Village restaurant. Oops, Ainsley and I went to La Palapa and we must have left a hefty tip because $37.00 is a lot of money for cheap eats! Meera and I went out for drinks. Target. Duane Reade. Associated Groceries and the list goes on and on.

I remember having a similar problem when I worked at Ann Taylor as a Sales Associate years ago. In two years I collected 12 pairs of black pants (keep in mind I have one ass) and 14 cashmere sweaters for my one and only back. Clearly the time to get serious and employ cost savings measures has arrived. I can reduce my one weekly Starbucks treat to none. That will save at least $20 a month. I used to get a coffee every day until my brother pointed out that was an annual habit of $1105. I promptly bought a coffee pot. I can also cut back on cocktails by drinking at home. Sure, that might seem depressing but I am an upbeat person who would save at least $64 a month!

I could cut the professional waxing appointments from two to one and do a touch-up each month. That will save $300 annually. And I can start saving money now! I open the linen closet and take out the wax strips. I microwave them and head back to the bathroom. I peel the wax strip from the backing and press it against my upper lip. I inhale and exhale, preparing myself for pain since I am so NOT a professional. With a fast yank, yank, ouch, ouch, my man-stache is gone. I press a strip against my eyebrow bone and and oops. The strip shifts too high and gets stuck. I have no choice but to rip it off and pray I won't have to buy an eyebrow pencil and draw my eyebrows in for the next three months. I count to ten and slowly peer into the mirror. OH THANK DURGA!!! While that was a close call, I don’t look like I got caught in a weedwacker. I will however have to tweeze the other side to even it out.

Hhhmm. While saving money is an excellent idea, one I should keep pursuing if I plan to live in Manhattan, I should not stop paying professionals for depilatory services.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


“How about Mr. Right Now?” Monkey Poop inquires. “What?” I ask unable to stop staring at his tee shirt. “Kiss me and I will be Mr. Right now and you can keep looking for Mr. Right,” Monkey Poop suggests. He is cute for a 26-year old. “Sure,” I reply. “What about me?” Preppy and then Casual ask. Why not, and like that I kiss the boys, all three of them. Wynn has become Annie Leibovitz and clicks the camera like a professional. Poor Kate, her jaw drops.

Just then Charles, the man Kate thinks she is dating, walks by with a gaggle of gorgeous and gaunt girls in runaway haute dresses. They sit down at one of the picnic tables and the sight of them silences us. “Who does he belong to?” Monkey Poop asks. “No one really. But mostly Kate,” I reply.

A table opens up on the other side of Charles and without saying hello, goodbye or thanks for smooching, I make a mad dash across the patio. Everyone has talents and mine is being the spotter. I find the BEST parking spaces at the mall and I am not afraid to hover over a table when I see people paying the bill. Wynn immediately rushes over. Kate stops to speak with Charles and then joins us. You can see hurt in Kate’s face. Her cheeks look flush and her eyes are red.

A waitress stops by and I say, “We’re going to need snacks. French fries, small sandwiches and more drinks. Lots of drinks.” “You got it,” she says and leaves. Charles comes over at the same time two Wall Street types in Hermes suits ask if they can join us. I say yes to the Wall Streeters and hear Wynn growl at Charles, “your shit is not good enough for Kate. Now shoo."

Night has set in around us and the crowd outside Ulysses seems to get stronger and louder as time rages on. The Wall Streeters are chatty and pay for most of the drinks. The married one is smitten with Kate and demands her attention even after she excuses herself to use the loo and returns to sit away from him. The other Wall Streeter is Irish and we have been talking for I don’t know how long about I don’t know what. My mind has gone numb and at some point I kiss him too. When they leave Wynn leans over the table and with disbelief says, “Who knew Manhattan’s giant prude would kiss four men, three of whom are friends in one night? You’re amazing. You’re a whole different person. I am impressed."

I don’t sleep around because I don’t have eight weeks for antibiotics to kill venereal diseases. Don’t even get me started on how picky I am about my shoes. They only go ON my feet. I also don’t want to be a single desi mom. Indians are cruel to widows, spinsters and divorcees. Also, I don’t disconnect my heart from my body, so I actually think sex means more than sex. Though I have learned, sex with meaning, is a foreign concept in New York.

When we no longer have space in our stomachs or the capacity in our tolerances to continue drinking, we decide to go home. Charles comes over to Kate and unsurprisingly they leave together. Giggling, Wynn and I teeter and totter our way along crooked streets until we reach the Bowling Green Station. The night is dark and cool, perfect Spring sleeping weather.

“Desi Girl,” Wynn whispers, grabs my arm and leads me along Broadway. “Yes?” I whisper back knowing night will keep our secrets. “I want to ride the Wall Street Bull,” she says and points at the 7,000 pound bronze symbol of American finance and greed. “Oh why not,” I reply. “How to get on it?” Wynn asks as we drop our purses, plant our hands on our hips and stare up at the bull.

A young couple walking along Broadway sees us and stops. “Do you girls want to ride the bull?” she asks. Wynn nods. “Honey, hoist her up there!” Like an obedient husband he helps Wynn. This is when I realize she had intended to do this all night. The camera was for the bull, not the boys. When is she finally perched between the bull’s horns I point, click and shoot. She slides off and says, “Desi Girl, your turn.”
Oh why not, and just like that, I, too, mount the Wall Street Bull.

(Yes that is Desi Girl herself on the Wall Street Bull)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


“I think we should go inside and order drinks,” I suggest to Wynn and watch the servers race around the patio. They look busier than Manhattan women fighting over authentic Prada bags at Midtown sample sales. “Agreed,” Wynn replies. Unfortunately the mob scene inside the sandstone walled bar is no better. Under a wood beam ceiling the bar, almost the size of the room, is on average five people deep on all sides. It is so loud my ears ring. And it so lawless we literally begin pushing our way towards the bar. When that doesn’t work we arch our backs, thrust our boobs forward and torpedo through the throng of patrons. There is no perceivable way we will hear or see Kate.

“Cranberry and vodka,” Wynn orders when she catches the bartender’s eye. “Same!” I shout. While we wait divine intervention shines upon us and Kate miraculously appears at our side. “Oh. My. God!” I girl-shriek. Wynn turns around puzzled at first, then relieved to see Kate. “I was so worried we’d never find you,” I gush and long-lost hug her, even though I saw her three days ago. “So glad you are here!” Wynn says and pecks a kiss on Kate’s cheek. “Me too!” Kate says, orders a white wine and looks around. “How are we going to get out of here?” “Same way we got in, boobs first,” I reply.

Once outside we find the alley between Ulysses, Puck Fair and Swift has filled with more people. “Where to start?” Wynn asks. “Over there,” I say and point arbitrarily. Our progression towards ‘over there’ is slow, bordering on nonexistent because all of Lower Manhattan has gathered here, ready to permanently indent the earth. While I like the bustle of big cities, I don’t like crowds. This is why concerts, Times Square and the Taste of Minnesota food festival are not on my favorite pastimes. With an exception to be made for Prince, that man is a mother-freaking genius.

It takes persistence and walking in a single file line like kindergartners to get across the alley. We regroup and form a half-circle so we can chat but are interrupted when someone yells, “Hey!” in our direction. We glance over and find a man wearing a tee -shirt of a monkey throwing poop. His two friends, Casual Clothes and Preppy Button-Down, hover behind him.

After a few minutes of introduction the six of us begin an organic conversation. “Do you know Wynn?” I ask Monkey Poop. “Nope. Just flagged her down and you all started talking to us.” Interesting approach. “So what do you guys do?” I ask of the handsome Preppy Button-Down. “We’re in television and live everywhere but Manhattan. What do you do?” he asks.

“I’m a writer.” This is the FIRST time I have ever said that. I’m not sure if it’s the alcohol or the need to reinvent myself, but I wonder if calling myself what I want to be, not what I am, is the first step towards empowerment. I no longer want to be that woman previous dates have met. I want to be new and shiny, a better version of that girl who fell for Town and Country, and dated Naveen Nair, Reindeer, Vee-jay, Dillweed, the ODDBs and etc.

On every level I know how crazy the Town and Country attraction is. Or was. But we had an intense connection, and a level of intimacy and honesty that came from sharing ourselves openly and deeply, with no judgment or expectation. He never lied or led me on and that kind of integrity doesn’t seem to occur naturally in Manhattan. I often think we got too close, too fast and exploded like stars caught in the gaseous atmosphere.

“What are you writing? I’m in TV. What’s the hook?” Huh, that is what my agent asks me all the time. After four years of writing and editing, I still pause and question my theme. “It’s about two generations of Indian woman in Minnesota negotiating…” I begin. “Won’t sell. Jhumpa Lahiri did it already and it’s a movie now.” Preppy says and crushes my dream.

“I didn’t know boys could still be mean at my age,” I mutter, sigh and pout. “How old are you?” Preppy asks with a smirk. “36,” I reply. “Now I know you’re a writer! Making shit up like that! 36? No really, how old are you?” Preppy asks and laughs. “Still, 36.” Who lies about being 36? “I’ll need some id,” Preppy says. This is deeply flattering and I have no issue producing my Minnesota driver’s license. “Damn. You don’t even look 30,” Preppy says. “Where’s your husband?” “I don’t have one,” I reply. “What? A single, good looking Indian woman? I presumed you were arranged by 12,” Preppy jokes. I presumed a lot of things when I moved to New York including meeting THE ONE, getting married and moving to Westchester within the span of 12 to 18 months. “Nope, still looking for the elusive Mr. Right,” I reply.

To be cont.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I arrive at Wynn's Midtown office just before 6:00 pm. She greets and leads me to her office where the desk is lined with vials and pots of makeup. "Have a seat, I need to fix my make-up," Wynn says and continues with her grooming process. Ten minutes pass and I feel nervous. We’re supposed to meet Kate at 6:30 pm and I fear we will be late because we still have to ride in the turn of the century elevator back to the lobby, walk to the subway station and then ride the 4/5 train to Bowling Green.

Wynn must sense my tension because she peers from around her hand mirror and says, “Relax!” She is wearing two green tank tops a light colored one layered on top of a darker one and black pants.“Kate might worry," I say and cross my legs. Unplanned, I, too, am in a green and black paisley print camisole, a black sweater, fabulous fitting black skirt and strappy sandals. “So?” Wynn replies and applies mascara. I think it’s rude to arrive late, but what can I do. So I sit back in the chair and make a mental note to buy an eyelash curler.

* * *

In theory it should take 30 minutes to go the 5 miles from Midtown East to Bowling Green on the 4/5 train. Today time and transport elude us. Wynn and I stand on the warm subway platform, eagerly awaiting the subway. We get excited each time we see the white light coming out of the dark tunnel, only to be disappointed that the arriving train is yet ANOTHER N/R/W train. Fifty-two minutes later we resurface and trek east.

We pass Beaver Street and I shudder, delighted that I never applied to M.I.T. whose mascot is the beaver. Girl beavers. It’s like they never thought women would attend college there. I tug my purse forward and unzip it. My hand roots between my wallet, sunglasses and keys until I find a piece of paper. I pull it out and unfold the address and directions to the bar. When I leave the gridded part of Manhattan, so does my direction sense.

“What are you doing? You look like a tourist!” Wynn demands as I study my notes. “Figuring out where we are going.” “I know where we are going! Relax!” Wynn orders. “This has nothing to with you. I like to orient myself in new areas,” I reply calmly, but annoyed that she scolds me like a child. “Okaaaay,” Wynn replies. Her tone is a cross between bored and unimpressed, like I dyed MY hair green without HER permission.

We can hear the bar Ulysses before we see it. We turn the corner and stare down the alley street. I am not prepared to see so many people in one spot! It is literally overflowing with people. My depth perception is not my sharpest skill, but if the alley is 40 feet wide by a hundred feet long, it is crowded with the standing and the seated, the drinking and the eating. I watch two women begin walking across the alley. For every three steps forward they take, they take two steps back. At this rate it will take them 15 minutes to cross. An urban mosh pit unfolds before my eyes.

Once my evening mixes with vodka, I foresee regretting the combination of three-inch sandals and the cobblestone, even if my legs (BELOW THE KNEE) look model hot.

To be cont.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I leave Ainsley, Kate and Wynn, board the M4 bus and begin my 45 minute journey back to the Heights. I find a seat mid-bus on the right side. The bus is unusually full for 10 pm on a Wednesday night. I pull a book out of my bag and turn on my iPod. The nice thing about riding the bus late at night is the traffic is light (for Manhattan). And because I do this commute several times a month I don’t notice the bus cruising along Madison Avenue, turning onto 110th Street and cutting north at Broadway through the 120s, 130s, 140s, 150s, and finally into the 160s where it turns west again onto Fort Washington.

Except tonight the driver doesn’t turn at 165th Street. But everyone else on the bus notices and someone yells, “Hey Driver! You need to turn at 165.” “No, I don’t,” the driver yells back. Because we are 10 blocks from the George Washington Bridge my first thought is that he’s an MTA employee gone rogue. And this renegade is taking us to the Bronx or Jersey, where he intends to hold us for ransom that he won’t get because the MTA is broke. “Yes, you do have to turn at 165!” another woman yells. “The route says turn at 168, so that is what I am gonna do,” the driver shouts back. “That’s the old route! The new route is west on 165!” “What? This an old map? Shoot! This isn’t my normal route,” the driver shares.

He slams on the brakes and yanks the bus diagonally across Broadway until we are in the left lane. We are ready to turn onto 168th Street when at the last minute the driver flips the biggest u-turn I have ever witnessed. My right boob is crushed into the side of the bus with my nose pressed up against the glass. Ooo, the window stinks. 

The driver cuts off a gypsy cab, almost clips a hydrant, miraculously avoids another bus and then heads south. “Gotta make all the stops! Goin’ back to 165!” the driver announces and grins at us. None of us are hurt or maimed, but he has silenced two dozen New Yorkers. We’re also VERY lucky that once Broadway hits the Heights the road is W-I-D-E. Because it not only takes skill, but space to whip an accordion bus 180 degrees. 

Once inside my apartment I sit down at the computer and check for Town and Country's response. (I know bad and stupid Desi Girl). But on one of our three dates, Town and Country and I chatted about palm readings and psychics. He said he knew of a good one. So a few days ago I emailed him for the contact information. I don’t totally believe in astrology. But I find it interesting that a stranger can read my energy or that my life is literally written in my hands. Staring at the computer I know while I am stubbornly steadfast, I am wantonly weak. And this HAS TO BE the last email I send him. EVER.

I bet no man had the audacity to tell Durga where and when to meet him. And I feel confident that Durga never contacted a man who rejected her. I am sure she was too busy saving mankind from itself to give a man the chance to reject her. Besides, she is not the pining type. She’s the type of woman to lock eyes with a man across the bar and buy him a drink of her choosing. I need to get strong and independent like her because I am tired of dejection and relationships on his terms. I need to live a life, this life, my life, on my terms.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


A week later I am having drinks with Ainsley (Post 166, 164, 140, 135, and 111), and Kate and Wynn, from the Killington ski trip (Post 161, 160, 159, and 158). “I’m being haunted,” I say, sip my wine and retell my Virat dream with graphic detail. When I finish Kate is speechless and Ainsley nods, processing the story. Wynn however says, “You are so strange.” Perhaps. But my dreams are like that. Vivid. Or else there are huge holes in them and I wake up in a panic.

“I had another dream once; it involved this awful former friend whose life revolved around having five boys interested in her at all times. Looking back I knew she was a horrible, shallow person. But I didn’t think to break-up with friends like I did with boyfriends. Until one night I dreamt I was house-sitting for her and decided to smoke cigarettes while vacuuming. When I went to take out the trash and it wouldn't stop flowing and soon the whole apartment was filled with stinking garbage and cigarettes. And I started freaking out because she was returning at any moment. Then there’s a knock on the door and I peer out the peephole. It’s a girl I haven't seen before with two side ponytails, wearing purple shorts. She knocks again, I don’t answer and finally the girl leaves.” Wynn makes a face, “That dream is stranger than the other one.” “What happens next with the girl?” Ainsley asks and ignores Wynn. “I wake up sweating and it ends,” I reply.

“How did you become friends with someone so rank?” Ainsley asks. “I don’t know,” I reply. I doubt Durga would tolerate a vain and unstable friend obsessed with boys, who wore make-up two shades too light and looked like the desi Michael Jackson. So why did I continue to spend time with someone who lacked any knowledge of current events, wrote emails riddled with grammatical errors and drove me to get caller id. Am I too Minnesota Nice and not enough Manhattan Ice? Or do I simply lack self-esteem in all areas of my life?

"Please tell me you are no longer friends with her,” Kate asks. “No,” I reply quickly and swiftly. “She tried to friend me on Facebook and I ignored her. She sent emails and I never wrote back. And when she invited me to her wedding and I didn’t RSVP because I worried she’d take that as communication.” Ainsley stares at me for a long moment and says, “If the apartment dream is your subconscious telling you to stopping being friends with someone. Your Thai dinner date dream is deeper than men.” I slowly release air from lungs and think Ainsley is correct. But I am scared to cut myself open and discover my psyche. Three and a half decades of repression, self-preservation, loss and disappointment is not going to be pretty once under the mighty lens of honesty, even if it leads to self-discovery.

“I think everything would fine if you’d just find a fuck-buddy,” Wynn suggests. Has this woman met me? If so, I doubt she would suggest, to a self-proclaimed prude, that the solution to her life is to find a man who uses her for sex. “No thanks,” I reply. Wynn does not relent, “We need a night of reckless abandon where we wildly kiss inappropriate men.” Wynn then points at me and says, “Desi Girl, you better smile and be nice if you want them to buy drinks.” “I can buy my own drinks. Besides I don’t think it’s nice to use men,” I reply. “Do you live under a rock?” Wynn demands. “If that rock is Washington Heights, then yes, I live under a rock,” I reply. Wynn groans and shakes her head, “Men like to be treated like shit…and I know just the place to take you.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I begin ordering. “Two egg rolls. Pork, with fish sauce on the side. The roasted red pepper chicken, extra chicken, lean on the veggies, heavy on the spices...” I stress each word, watching color slowly draining from smug Virat’s face. The full force of my warrior Punjabi caste aligns with me and I continue, “And vodka with soda water. Heavy on the vodka, light on the water.”

With my spicy meat dish and drink on the way, I feel empowered. It was high time to order a drink…no, no, order drinks in front of the teetotalers. Maybe even get drunk. Why not? And vegetarians? Why bother? Spinsterhood or not, I am not giving up chicken curry for any man. Ever.

When I meet quiet and introspective types, I will drive them away with incessant chatter, putting an end to dates with mutes. If he cannot string five words into a sentence then he is not for me. For the religious men, I’ll tell them my stars are bad, which is no lie. No superstitious Indian man is going to stick around and find out more. Tomorrow I’ll work off the egg rolls on the treadmill, my modern day lion. Tonight I will drink vodka like water. I have no issue with making concessions, but I am not accommodating the likes of the Virat the Vegetarian or Tanuj the Teetotaler.

Then suddenly I have the unbelievably strong and uncontrollable feeling that I have to pee, and right then and there, I do. I pee in my seat. I pee and I pee and I pee until I bolt up, panting and gasping. It takes a moment to determine my surroundings and realize I, again, fell asleep on the couch and left on the living room lights. I squint. The VCR clock says 445 am and the early morning news blares on the telly. An empty wine glass rests on a coaster. A small dullness beats against my temples. I reach under my ass. Dry. I did NOT pee in my sleep, but man I have to go now!

I sit up and push the blanket away. Reality settles in. Holy fuck! Holy fuck! HOLY FUCK! That was a dream. Thank GOD it was a dream, but HOLY FUCK! Every bad date I have ever had and all my worst fears about myself just manifested in my subconscious. I don’t have a choice, I have to ask, how did my life end up on this course? And why aren’t I strong and fearless like that in real life? I don’t know what is worse insomnia or these dreams that generally come in advance of conflict or deep-seated anxiety that I am denying.

These days I cannot seem to strike the balance. I feel beat down by relatives who judge and advise but in the end don’t help. You are too picky they say. Come to India and get a job at an MNC. And we can find you a husband in no time. But they don’t listen when I tell them I don’t want to live in the Third World where the plague still breaks out. There is a reason Dad got the hell out. I don’t want any man, I want THE ONE, because he will surely understand me, make me laugh and genuinely love me. Am I really asking for that much? I shouldn’t have to settle because my cousins did and think I should, too. And I most certainly don’t want to uproot my life. Again. I am barely hanging on in this one.

And shit man. I don’t understand what is going in the man department. In college I knew SOOO many nice men. Indian or otherwise. Did all the goods ones get married and all that is left are the losers? What does this say about me? Because I am not the single mom type, nor should a child be left alone in my soul care, I am freaking out that my window to naturally bear kids is closing. Every time the sun rises I get closer to 40, further from 20 and feel everything I was raised to acquire (a masters, marriage and motherhood) is slipping away because nothing seems to go my way (other than the graduate degree).

But the thing is, I don’t like my job, I am nothing more than a glorified secretary. Instead of walking away, I keep plugging along “for the family” like we’re the freaking mob or something. I don’t like my apartment, but I get paid in Minneapolis wages, while living in Manhattan, so I can’t afford a place on the Upper East Side. I can barely afford this one. And then there is my small addiction to Ann Taylor coupons. I cannot resist those glossy flyers that come in the mail and say, “For 4 days only, all full-price items are 30% off” and deplete my monies. Desi men? Well Minnesota didn’t exactly prepare me to adore tall, dark and handsome because I have an insatiable desire for Matthew McConaughey and Val Kilmer. But Dad has told me that if I bring home anything other than brown, I am disowned. I know parents make empty threats, but Dad is scary stubborn and I believe him. So what choice did I have but to become a serial desi dater and end up on this course.

As I make my way to the bathroom I force myself to be honest. I cannot solely blame the men, my job, family, or relatives. I allowed it all. Desi boys got away with behavior that green or blue men wouldn’t. I put up with life in a family business and relatives telling me to move to India, that I am old, not that skinny or that pretty. My friends too. Why do I return calls, text messages and emails within seconds of receipt, while it takes them days, even weeks to respond?

I switch on the bathroom light. My face looks dull and tired. Ten-pound hefty bags have taken permanent residence under my eyes. The truth is, some time ago I sold myself up the metaphorical river and now I have to buy myself back. Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Ugh, this has to be my wake up call to change things. Or else I may seriously lose it.

My dream of incontinence also makes me realize that what I need more than a boyfriend, or a husband, are a Manhattan paycheck with the trimmings of 401K, vacation time and health insurance, and some balls like Hilary Clinton, not flimsy ovaries like Sita. And most likely a, therapist --- a good one who can prescribe drugs.