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.