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.