Sunday, October 31, 2010


Before the sun rises on Tuesday I get up, brush my teeth and brew coffee. For years, my architectural education had me believing I was a night person. But when I began working I was also able to get up at pre-dawn hours (with the assistance of coffee, of course). I don’t know if it’s possible to be both a night and morning person. But I do know that I equally like the inky darkness of early morning and the jet black of night --- and if I can get them sprinkled with stars and guarded by the light of the moon, even better yet. And stars, they are something I took for granted in my Minneapolis life. 

Growing up, the morning routine was one of my favorite times of the day. Mom would come upstairs to shower and begin by switching on the bathroom light. The action would run a white beam under the sliver of space between the carpet and the bottom of my closed bedroom door. I would hear the bathroom door close. A few minutes later the sound of  running water would play against my ears. I would close my eyes and smile. For seven minutes I would savor the peace of morning.

As the coffee slowly percolates into the pot I stare out the kitchen window, across the shaft way and into my neighbor’s apartment. It’s been over a day since I texted Town and Country. Nothing but silence between us. And I'm mad that the power between us shifted again. The odd thing is, for the first time since moving to New York, I wasn’t looking for anything resembling a relationship with Town and Country, or any Manhattan man for that matter. I had been dating like I was training for a marathon that the joy of motion had long since been lost on me. I was beginning to feel like I wanted to date, for fun not keeps. Scandalous speak for a woman my age, but who cares what society thinks. Is society going to pay my rent when the landlord comes knocking? Didn't think so.

And it is times like this I wish I was one of those crazy people for whom the stalker laws were created. I would totally get on the train, go to Town and Country’s house, bang on the door (waking his hoity toity neighbors) and ask why he acts like an ass. Does he think it's nice to ignore people? I certainly don’t. I also don't think he's worth a $2 Metro Card ride. So why aren’t I deleting his number from my phone?

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I do what “they, the experts” say not to when suffering from insomnia, and glance at the clock. 3:23 am. I wonder if absorbing excessive Vitamin D can cause sleeplessness. I was at the clothing optional beach today for eight continuous hours. And it should come as no shock that I have never really been much of an outdoor girl. Sure I played soccer in high school for a few years and I tried to play tennis and golf. But I really don’t like to be hot so I opt for air conditioned spaces – libraries, malls and museums.

When I was in graduate school my insomnia had a devilish personality of its own. Between working full-time, taking classes four nights a week, working part-time at Ann Taylor and advising my sorority’s chapter at the University of Minnesota, you’d think I’d fall over dead from exhaustion. No, no, instead I would crawl into bed and lay there, wide awake until two or three in the morning. And I never defaulted to sleep aids. I never wanted to be dependent on drugs. I have enough problems with wine and shoes.

Which means, now, five years later I have a closet filled with footwear and no Unisom in the apartment. And there is no way I am walking to a 24 hour drug store in this neighborhood at this hour of the morning. But I am so desperately tired that I pop some Benadryl.

Two hours I wake up feeling fuzzy and dizzy. It’s the cusp of dawn and I wonder if I should attempt my day. This debate continues until 8:00 am when I finally sit up and feel woozy, different than earlier, and a little sick to my stomach. I flop back into bed and begin to collect little bits and bubs of my energy. The one thing I absolutely must do before noon is review my proposal and email it.

With a force that could move an MTA bus I drag myself out of bed, fire up the computer and painstakingly read the document. The words are blurry and my head hurts, but I manage to make final edits and hit send. As I wade through email I realize Town and Country has not texted or emailed since Saturday. But we spoke about meeting up tonight. And because I’m delusional I text him for details.

The combination of working and Benadryl has amplified my exhaustion. I am so tired, that I am too tired to fall asleep and feel like I may come full circle back to awake. Hour by hour, I lay in bed and watch the day slip away. 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm, 6:00 pm. At 7:00 pm, I feel dejected, and wonder how this happened. I was going on just fine with my life. Then Town and Country texted me. I got my hopes up. And once again, I was dissed --- Town and Country style.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I leave the fundraiser empty-handed. Who says I don’t have self-control? If only I were that disciplined and proactive with my life. I am annoyed that I spent $70 on a bikini wax --- just in case --- on Town and Country. Mental note to self: pay more attention to Desi Girl and less on grooming for dates that evidently never come. Maybe then I wouldn’t be so emotionally entangled in the silky sari of of my life.

A part of me also thinks I would be less interested in Town and Country if matrimonial talks with Dr. Froggy would become more intellectually stimulating. He informed me that he refers to his Porsche as “Kitten”, and scolded a date for slamming the car door too hard. I feel confident that woman never saw him again. And at least I know what to do in case I want to scare Dr. Froggy away.

In an effort to engage him, I probed about his interests and discovered he had a membership to a gym he never used, loved hockey, didn’t read and liked the show Heroes. Now I am officially BORED out of my mind. But familial pressure to get married stops me from cutting him loose, especially not before we meet, which is the other agitator.

If we don’t meet soon, I may stop taking his calls. This will either wean him away or ramp up his interest. There is only a finite amount of time you can keep chatting before ALL the excitement wears off. I think this time frame is three to five weeks from the first chat. However, I do give him props for knowing that Louis Vuitton has an Epi leather collection handbag that I covet.

I get home and crawl into bed. The thought of spending my Saturday indoors in front of a computer is lack luster, too. I have a solid eight if not ten hours of work to finish. But it’s fine. My reward comes Sunday in the form of a day at the beach.

I wake up early on Saturday and make another anti-Desi Girl move, deciding against the gym. Clearly I am quite confident for the beach if I am not working out today. Out of habit I grab the cell phone. Hhhmm. A text arrived from Town and Country last night while I was the fundraiser. Had he contacted me on Thursday night I would have skipped the fundraiser for him. I’m pathetic, I know. But I spent four months dating Reindeer the celibate monk who made me a feel like a nun, and just for once I’d like to feel desirable.

Text from Desi Girl: Welcome back.
Text from Town and Country: Thanks. Tired. But had a lot of productive meetings.
Text from Desi Girl: Sounds good. I am working on a project this weekend.
Text from Town and Country: Wanna get together? (Okay. Annoying! First, I JUST told him I’m working; does he think he’s the only one whose work matters? And second, does he assume that I’m at his beck and call? This isn’t Pretty Woman, he’s not Richard Gere. And why don’t I ever LISTEN to my inner voice? It never, ever is wrong.)

Text from Desi Girl: Tempting but working. I have a big project to ship out on Monday by noon. How about Monday night? You can be the reward for this smart and sexy woman? (I waited two weeks for his schedule to open up for me; he can wait a few for mine.) 

Text from Town and Country: That is a deadly combination and you are def sexy! (Swoon).

See I am not a total Desi Girl sell-out. There are things more important than a date, like work and a day at the beach.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I should be enjoying the shopping summer fundraiser I’m attending. It’s in a fantastic two bedroom, two bath RENT STABILIZED Central Park West apartment in the mid-80s. Instead I am melancholy, wondering why Town and Country has not texted me about our date.

Being ignored has given me time to think about last night’s conversation with Meera and Lucy. Logically my head understood what they said. I agree there is a strong possibility that Town and Country wants a casual relationship on his terms. By no means do I discount Meera and Lucy’s words urging me to resist making a regrettable mistake. However, they both have found really nice, decent men to love them. Of course, I know what Meera and Lucy endured during their search for THE ONE. We girls belabor discussions of Love, the Battlefield. But I can’t stop feeling entitled to thoughts of, “sure you went through this, but I’m still a foot soldier stuck in the trenches and I think my gun stopped working a long time ago.”

My tendency to submit to hope is making a muck out of things. Not only does it have me desiring someone who ignored me for months, I have also convinced myself that Town and Country and I could be more than a time pass. I mean, this is New York. He could go out with one of a million women, no strings attached, right? Yet, he contacted me, a love-seeking prude. See how rational I can make something irrational sound? I have become public enemy number one against the State of Desi Girl.

The fact that I no longer feel good about myself is not helping. It has been a long time since I was that potent and plucky woman who packed up her Midwestern life and landed in Manhattan. The pain and sadness seem to become stronger and more powerful everyday. Loneliness makes me vulnerable to the electric chemistry I feel towards him. It renders me helpless, a moth drawn to a Town and Country flame that will burn me. And I can do nothing to stop it, because my heart is more willful than my head.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Meera, Lucy (Rohit’s co-worker who I befriended at their Super Bowl party back in February) and I are eating oven-baked pizzas and drinking white wine at a small, quaint Upper West Side Bar. The location wasn’t a convenient choice for any of us. Meera and I are uptown in Harlem and the Heights, and Lucy lives downtown in Battery Park City.

“Guess who contacted me?” I ask as both Meera and Lucy take bites of their slices. They look at each and shrug. “Town and Country,” I reply. Meera rolls her eyes, “What does he want after all this time? And what took him so long to realize he was missing out?” Meera asks. This is one of the reasons I love Meera. So what if I am not Miss Universe Aishwarya Rai Bachchan hot, she believes in me and friends, like lovers, should never tear you down, they should always build you up. “Which guy is this again? There are so many I need a flow chart,” Lucy asks and wipes her lips. “The one who dated her for three days and decided he wanted his ex back. What happened to the ex?” Meera asks. I shrug.

“How did this happen?” Lucy asks. “He texted me and asked if I wanted to get together when we were both in New York,” I explain. “What does ‘wanted to get together’ mean?” Meera asks. “This sounds like a booty call? If so, I don’t understand why he would pick someone so prudish, no offense,” Lucy says. “None taken,” I reply and reach for a second slice. “Whaaaaat? You think he just wants sex? Then no. Definitely not! Don’t see him!” Meera decides. “Agreed,” Lucy says.

“Well I kinda agreed to see him,” I reply. “Kinda or did agree?” Lucy demands. “Did,” I reply, a little more meek than usual. “Okay, let’s pretend this a booty call. He sleeps with you and then what?” Lucy asks. “Well, if it gets to that point, we would have sex with each other,” I correct. “Then what?” Lucy asks. “Look, I have plenty of friends who do this and end up as emotional road kill. I think you should ignore him.” “Well I don’t care if she sleeps with him,” Meera says, “but definitely not this soon. He’ll think you are too easy and won’t come back. And with him, I think there is potential. He is PERFECT for you. Well educated, smart, he challenges you, Punjabi, I don’t think you should risk that on a fling."

“I just started dating John and he is great and might even be the one, and because of that I wanted to go slowly and make sure. If Town and Country is as great as Meera says, then you should proceed slowly.” “Well, I have a five date rule, so this date would be four,” I reply. Am I trying to convince them or myself? “I have that rule, too,” Lucy says, “and I recommend sticking by it. You are not a casual girl. He doesn’t sound like someone looking for a relationship. What has he been doing since March? And I REALLY don’t see this ending well for you.”

Sunday, October 24, 2010


My parents are humble and generous people, some of the original 1960s desi settlers of the Indian community. When Dad first moved to Minnesota, desis in the snow were sparse, mostly men like Dad, “uncles” in graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Growing up, my brother and I were dragged to bhangra dance lessons practicing for the Festival of Nations and religious functions.

After Dad set up his architectural practice, the doctor and businessman uncles hired him to design their posh suburban homes, then refused to pay fees (I guess this is the despicable way the rich stay rich). The unethical uncles knew Dad was too dignified to beg for his fees, which caused Dad to slowly retreat from our community.

Spending 30 years of your life watching “your own people” behave like this makes Desi Girl suspicious when the uncles call the office looking for Dad. When I see the greasy, pig-faced uncles at the mall or restaurants, I go out of my way to avoid them. But, God bless my parents, who are karmic-ly wired to take in, what I lovingly refer to as “desi refugees” --- students, H1-B visa recipients and new hardworking desi immigrants to Minnesota. Mom invites them for dinner, and Dad doles kind words of support in what I call his, “You can hack it speech."

So when one such refugee began renting the upper floor of the office building, I was less than thrilled. But in time, as I got to know Desi Refugee, I warmed to him. He had a wife, kids and was seeking the American dream. And every time he saw Mom and Dad, he immediately touched their feet out of respect and made them his adopted parents. When Dad was not in the office Desi Refugee would stop by and ask my brother and I to pass on our regards. At least he was not greedy and I knew he would not cheat my parents.

On my last afternoon in Minnesota, I am at my desk working on my final assignments, and Desi Refugee comes by. “Knock, knock, Sister,” he says. This is also interesting. I am probably five to seven years older than him, and like my brother, Desi Refugee out of respect doesn’t take my name, literally calling me “Sister.” “Hi! How are the kids?” I ask and stop typing. “They are doing good…say do you know Tapan Gupta?” “Yeaaah,” I say slowly.

When you grow up brown in Minnesota, you pretty much know all the desis in your age group. So the thought of dating or even liking a desi boy your age is disgusting for three reasons. One, he was probably friends with my brother, which makes me think of him as my brother, and the thought of dating him was incest-gross. Two, you know his parents are and the thought of being in-lawed to them is enough to make you gag. And three, the aunties in the grapevine are notorious gossips and I cannot imagine the stories they would tell. They would turn a harmless mall and pizza date into, “Desi Girl was seen drinking, dancing and kissing a desi boy at the club."

“Why do you ask about Tapan?” I ask, knowing my brother is listening to the entire conversation from the other side of the office. We have an open office space. “Well his parents are fantastic. He has a successful business. Is divorced and in New York.” Divorce is and will always be a tabooed stigma, especially for Indian woman. Do you see why I’m so picky? I have one chance to do this correctly. Or else my parents are going to wear a giant “DD” for “divorced daughter” on their reputation forever until death saves them from me.

Besides, I have a few good years still on me, I am sure I could still find an unmarried desi man. I am tired of this mathematical equation with desis. One old-maid, pretty, educated girl + one divorced entrepreneur = perfect desi match. “What about Tapan?” I probe, knowing where this will painfully end. “You should call him. I will send you his email and number,” Desi Refugee says and leaves.

The office falls stone cold silent and my brother finally speaks, I hear amusement in his voice. “…are you going to call Tapan?” “Nope. If Taps is interested, he needs to call me.” “That is pretty much what I figured," my brother says, pleased that he knows me better than anyone else on this planet. “Ready to go to the airport?” he asks. "Yes, ready," I reply.

For the first time since I moved away, Minnesota doesn't feel like home. I don't live here anymore. I don’t fit in anymore, if I really ever did. Minnesota is like a first love --- wonderful and heart-breaking. Something to cherish with fondness, but not where I spend forever.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The next morning I scamper around getting ready for work, watching the Today show, and wondering which pair of shoes to wear. Before going into the office I stop for a $4 coffee. With NPR on the radio, I merge into the morning traffic and remember why I don’t like driving --- not-so-Minnesota-nice people who tailgate and won’t share the road. The car heats up under the June sun and I switch on the air conditioning only to find, it’s not working. Nice, now I’m going spend the next three miles sweating like a farm animal in my silk dress.

I’m the first one in the office and sit down to check email. This is when I remember the text message and check my phone. Well I will be damned, it’s from Town and Country, who writes, “How have you been?” OMG!!! I SOOO don’t believe this. I have always fantasized (again because I watch WAY too many Bollywood movies and soap operas) that a man who had dissed me would regain his senses and say, “Desi Girl, my bad! I realize now that I cannot live without you, I will devote my entire life to you, if you just take me back.” Now, do not think for one moment I actually think a straight man would say such melodramatic things to me; this is just my wild and vivid imagination.

Text from Desi Girl: I am great! How about you? What have you been up to?
Text from Town and Country: Very busy with work. Traveling this week and next. What about you?
Text from Desi Girl: (Hhhmm. It’s always work with him). I can’t complain. In MN with family. Back in NY next week.

When his next text comes in, the metaphorical train comes to a grinding metal on metal halt and crashes inside my head, because he writes: Wanna get together when we’re both back?

I’m suspicious. He doesn’t speak to me for months and out of the clear blue he returns. And while men don’t proclaim their undying love for me in real life, they don’t reach out because they’re bored and have time to kill. And definitely not Town and Country. He’s a very busy and serious businessman, with an impressive reputation. Still, his outreach cues silly Bollywood scenes in my head where I dance across smooth flat rocks, ducking between trees and dense foliage, while he of course chases me. In my voice of a nightingale, I sing how I cannot live without him. He sings back, that the shape of my face haunts him and the light of my bindi blinds him.

Text from Desi Girl: Sure, let me know when you are back and we can get together.
Text from Town and Country: Great. I am excited to see you. Been thinking about it but held off on contact.

Since I am blogging about a conversation I had with Town and Country in June 2008, I can tell you, that this was one of several moments I should have dropped the phone and run. Now that I have history on my side, I see how I misread his interest. But back then I was a lonely woman in a huge city who wanted to be loved. Because I let myself believe destiny was realigning itself, I wrote back: Great! Looking forward to seeing you too.

Even though I knew better than to throw myself under the bus, I didn’t stop or care. I just wanted a boy to love me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


It’s after midnight when I return from dinner with my sorority sisters. Relationships where you pick up, right where you left off are so heartwarming and one of life’s greatest gifts. And I love that my girls become more endearing and witty with time.

I switch off the mudroom light and slink upstairs. It’s this thing Mom and I do. She doesn’t ask what time I’m coming home anymore. When she wakes up at night and the light is on, she knows I’m still out. When the lights are off, she knows I’m home, safe and sound.

Once upstairs, I feel too tired to change into my jammies and flop onto my bed. Actually, I’m sleeping in my brother’s childhood bedroom because it has a television and I need noise to fall asleep. I know it annoys Mom to find me snoozing away with the TV on when she comes upstairs to shower at 5:00 am. However, I think, now that I live 1,000 miles away and am like the Shamrock Shake, around for a limited time, I get away things I never did before. For instance, the reason I don’t sleep in my childhood bedroom is because I cannot find my bed. It’s buried under the contents of my suitcase, which look like they exploded all over the room. I know this drives Mom nuts, but she never says anything. She simply shuts the door.

My mobile phone beeps and alerts me to a text message. But the phone is in my purse, which is clear across the room and I lack the energy to see who thinks midnight is the appropriate time to text. If it was urgent, I’m sure the person would call, right? And who is still awake at this hour? At 1:00 am EST my friends in New York should be asleep, as should my Minnesota friends, especially since most of them have kids who wake up with the sun. My cousin in Bangalore might be awake but I’m sure we can talk tomorrow.

Andy Capp's Hot Fries
I roll onto my side and yawn. The late hour and wine are
mixing inside of me like a sleep aid. When I was an undergraduate architecture student and all throughout my 20s I never slept for more than 3 or 4 hours a night. The life of a design student and the pressure of project critiques didn’t allow for more than catnaps and the inhumane consumption of Diet Coke and Andy Capp’s hot fries. I crammed architectural history into my brain while suffering many a flesh wound --- paper cuts from vellum and knife wounds from where my exacto blade sliced my finger instead of tagboard. It’s tragic that I went through all that, to learn Desi Girl was not a great designer, but writer. And this is how I became an architectural communications and marketing professional.

Frasier comes on and I increase the volume. I’d love to meet a clever, un-athletic, slightly neurotic man who enjoys fine wine and tailored clothes. I snuggle under the covers and let Frasier’s voice lull me to sleep and forget about the text message --- for now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


In my opinion, the best, best, best time to visit Minnesota is the three weeks between mid-June and 4th of July. Before mid-June the weather can still be chilly and the latter half of July, into August is SO humid and SO riddled with mosquitoes that summer can be as oppressive as winter. The reward for surviving winter in Minnesota is golfing or lake activities like sunbathing, boating, grilling, and water-skiing. Unfortunately with the good comes the bad and summer also brings an endless season of orange pylons and construction workers who leave the interstates looking like bomb stricken war zones with cranes, three-story piles of dirt, and concrete girders everywhere.

Oddly enough, despite super fabulous weather Mom and I decide to see a movie. And what I REALLY want to see is Sex and the City. But I am worried. My friends are reporting that there is nudity in the movie, specifically a penis, which does not offend me. However, I wonder if this is the movie Desi Girl takes Desi Mom to see.

Especially since, as a 12-year old, I convinced my parents to take our family to see Flashdance. If you have seen this movie you know it’s about an aspiring ballerina who is a welder by day and exotic dancer by night. Now, my father finds farting in public offensive…so you can only imagine how not-so-well this movie went over with my conservative Indian immigrant parents. It matters not that Indians created the kama sutra and shiva lingam, my parents are teetotalers who never curse and don’t walk around the house in their underwear, much less nude. In my defense, as the parents, shouldn’t they have double-checked what their daughter was suggesting?

With that glorious claim to my name, I make a SATC redirect, “Mom, this movie, Sex and the City, may be dirty,” I say, emphasizing the word “sex”, then dip my toast into my tea, feeling certain that will dissuade her. Instead she says, “Okay,” and adds sugar to her tea. Hhhmm. I have to be more aggressive, less passive, “Mom I think there is some nudity.” No reaction, she says, “Fine,” and keeps stirring. What is this madness! With fervor and fear, I panic and yelp, “Mom! They show the front of a man!” Nice. I am well into my 30s and cannot say the word “penis” in front of my mother. She shrugs and says, “So?” When did Mom become this hip and unshakable?

Then again Mom once asked my brother and I to rent Pulp Fiction for her. We cringed when we remembered the gimp scene or when Maria de Medeiro’s character asks Bruce Willis’s character to give her oral pleasure. The movie was also violent, like when Uma Thurman over-doses on drugs or when John Travolta blows the head off Marvin in a moving car. Back then, I hedged and suggested to my brother that we lie and say the movie was unavailable. But my brother held firm and said, “She wants to see it. So she’s gonna see it. And let’s watch it with her. We can do our taxes.”

One hundred and fifty-four minutes, in slow motion, my brother and I turned to look at Mom, who was completely unmoved. My brother seemed worried and I asked, “Well, what did you think Mom?” “It was fine. Desperado had more killing.” It was a little horrifying that our pocket-sized Mom could compare one violent movie to another. 

Then again, I did leave her in the basement of Grand Central Station for two hours with no cell phone while I went on a date. So who am I to stop her from seeing Sex and the City. “The movie is at 12:25 pm,” I finally say. She looks at her watch and nods. Fantastic, one hour until Mom sees some t and a. God help me.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Two days later, Rohit is still in the hospital and I am wondering what the protocol for visiting is. I’d like to see him, but do you call and say, “Sorry about your abs, so glad your tumor wasn’t cancerous. And by the way I have some free time tonight, can I come see you?” Clearly this is not a party, celebration yes, but party no, so it’s not like I wait for an invite, right? And who do I call to ask if I can visit? Does Rohit have his cell phone? Or does it interfere with the machines monitoring his recovery? I am sure Meera has to work and is not reachable right now. And I could pester Meera’s mom, Auntie, who is in town. Luckily around lunchtime Meera calls to ask if I am able to swing by tonight. Of course.

* * *

Rohit is at Sloan Kettering on the East Side and Meera has given me directions. And while I love her dearly, I am a little nervous she will get me lost. Directions are not her forte. Rohit must know this too, and he texts me with exact directions and a note that he is looking forward to seeing me.

After consulting my map, I determine the best way to get to the hospital is by taking the A train to Columbus Circle, walking along Broadway and then hopping the M66 to Sloan. I cannot imagine this commute will take more than an hour so I leave home at 445 pm to get to the hospital by 6. Unfortunately I would have been better off walking from Columbus Circle to Sloan because the cross-town buses are crawling soooooo frustratingly slooooowly through the park.

When I finally get to the hospital, Auntie, Meera’s mom is sitting and reading a magazine. Rohit looks pretty okay considering what he just went through and the room is FILLED notes and gifts. How I wish I had brought something other than MTA angst, but I was commuting for 1 hour and 52 minutes. In that much time I could have been half way to Phillie.

“Hi, sweetheart,” Auntie says when she sees me and sets her reading materials aside. I like that she has a term of endearment for me. “Hi Auntie, hey Rohit,” I say and squeeze his hand. “How do you feel?” “Like they took out one of my abs," he replies dryly. A nurse comes in to check Rohit’s vitals and Auntie offers to give me a tour of the floor.

“Meera said she should be here around 8, why don’t we get something to eat and bring it back,” Auntie suggests. This must be tough for her too, spending all day in a hospital, worrying for her daughter and son-in-law. “Sure, but I left my purse in the room,” I say. “Don’t worry,” Auntie says. I won’t realize it until we get to the restaurant, but she had intended to buy me dinner all along. Indian hospitality even when her son-in-law is recovering from surgery.

We go around the corner to a place called Taava. The guys who are working at the restaurant are speaking to one another in Hindi. Auntie waits to catch their eye and in English, orders dinner for herself and Meera and then nudges me to order. As soon as I finish, Auntie and I continue chatting but are interrupted when one of the guys says to Auntie, “Aap ko roti chahiye?” Here’s where things get a little bring out your desi dictionaries so Desi Girl can translate. Auntie speaks English and Tamil. I presume the servers can speak English but are choosing to speak in Hindi (and hello are we still in America?). I speak English, can follow Hindi conversations and when push comes to shove I can fake Hindi, and I can fake it pretty well.

Despite being desis from India, Auntie and the servers have a language barrier. Auntie is South Indian and the servers are North Indian. She doesn’t respond to them because she doesn’t understand their language, and keeps talking to me. As the token American desi amongst desis, I ask, "Auntie they want to know if you want a roti.” 
“No, thank you sweetheart,” she replies. I nod and turn to the guys and say, “Auntie ko roti nahi chahiye."

Auntie and I return to chatting and we are again interrupted. “Auntie, aap ko kati roll chahiye?” The server is now asking if Auntie wants a kati roll, a very devilishly delicious treat of naan, stuffed with paneer or chicken or lamb, onions, spices (think of a desi burrito). Auntie again declines. And I am left amused, wondering in what universe can a Hindi-illiterate American Desi from Minnesota became the translator who bridges the north / south Indian divide in the name of dinner, in Manhattan no less.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Mondays are generally unpleasant. Today is even more so because it’s Rohit’s surgery and it has me reliving Mom’s second open-heart surgery. Ten years ago, my brother, Dad and I spent the entire day in a Mayo Clinic lounge waiting in a zombie like state. We didn’t speak, watch TV and lost our appetites. I couldn’t even read. It took two hours to get through three paragraphs and I gave up. The walls of the waiting room felt like they were closing in on me so I went the gift shop and bought word finds. I did puzzle after puzzle like a robotic machine because I had to get the thought of Mom being kept alive on a heart-lung machine while a surgical team replaced her faulty heart valve with an artificial one out of my mind.

After the surgery Mom was taken to ICU for a three-day stay. We were only allowed to see her once a day for five minutes. Dad went first and my brother and I followed. The image of her small, frail body enveloped by a huge, white hospital bed is permanently etched in my mind. I can still see the IVs, tubes and cords trailing from her body to the dozen beeping, flashing machines that surrounded her in a half circle. There isn’t anything to prepare you for the sight of seeing someone you believed invincible laying there, pale and haggard. I tried to be happy to see her, and I was. I had never prayed so hard in my life, but I also wanted to vomit. Since I am absolutely not subtle, Dad pulled me aside and told me to get it together or get out of the room. So I pinched the inside of my left hand with my right fingers and temporarily focused my fear and pain elsewhere.

It is no wonder that worry finds me again and I decide to take a walk. I grab my phone, just in case Meera calls and head towards the river. I understand no one really likes hospitals and I’m not the only one associating them with sickness. But I have a skewed perception of loss and death, stemming from the fact that my relatives live 10,000 miles away. It’s hard enough to have meaningful relationships with people you see intermittently because of distance. You cannot foster a relationship without communication so their inability to speak English and mine to speak Hindi never helped the situation. When my relatives began to pass away it was difficult to experience loss because we had lived lives separate from one another. And because Hindus cremate the bodies within hours of death, there are no graveyards to pay respects. Only memories and photos adorned in garlands of sandalwood remain.

Several hours later my phone rings and I pounce when I see it’s Meera. “Hey,” I say quickly. “He’s out,” Meera says. I have ever heard her sound so tired or so spent. “He’s in recovery and doing well. I’m not up for talking, okay?” “Sure, I understand. Let me know if you need anything,” I say and hang up.

They have already told me that the recovery will long and arduous. The doctors deflated Rohit’s lungs so he’ll have to practice breathing again and removed one of abdominal muscles. But at the end of day, all that matters is that he will be fine.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I have just finished eating dinner with friends in Koreatown. They are going for a round of after dinner drinks, but neither my pocketbook nor my feet (pesky platform boots were the WRONG thing to wear tonight) have any endurance remaining.

In addition to yummy food, the other nice thing about Koreatown is that I can hop on the M4 bus at 32nd Street. My feet will especially appreciate being dropped off right in front of the apartment building. Gently I coax my squished toes to walk one step at a time to the bus stop. Promising them that seated liberation is coming soon. I hobble around a stopped car with its hazards flashing and wait at the stop.

I look west and see a bus coming my way. Hurray! Two minutes until I am whisked Uptown. With delight, mostly because my feet are quite angry with me, I watch the bus approach. I pull out my Metrocard and as I look up the bus ZIPS by me towards Madison Avenue. Imagine my horror, so close, so ready, so poised to swipe and just like that, poof, the bus is gone. Because it’s after 10:00 pm on a Saturday, it’s anyone’s guess when the next bus will happen by. So I do, what any urban gal in transport crisis would do. I tuck my purse into my armpit and run after the bus. My feet scream curse words at me and I pound one foot after another against the concrete sidewalk. Luckily the goddesses favor me tonight and the bus gets stuck at the light waiting to turn left onto Madison.

Last year, my polite little inner Midwesterner would not have done this, but I want to go home and bang on the bus door. I wave my Metrocard, then point down the street. The driver KNOWS there was a stop and I cannot tell if he is amused or annoyed. But I don’t care. He is the THE ONE who drove right by me! Skeptically he opens the doors and I smile, I can be downright charming when it serves me. “Oh thank you!” I gush and flash a bigger smile and do the flirty girl head tilt. “I was waiting and you drove right by!” He makes a sad face and says, “I didn’t see you!” Well, okay. At least he is nice and letting me on the bus when he really didn’t have to.

The nice thing about boarding at the beginning of the route is I have my choice of seats. I pull out my book and settle in for what will be an hour commute home. In the mid-40s I notice we pass a stop where people are clearly waiting. I watch him and he seems to skip every third stop, whether people are waiting or not. I am grateful he let me on and hope he is not drunk.

Somewhere around the George Washington Bridge I hear loud Spanish being spoken. I keep reading but whoever is talking, amps up the volume. I finally look up, because this person is so distracting I’m tempted to shush him, and meet the eyes of a middle-aged man. Surely he is not speaking to me and look behind me. But the only people on the bus are Spanish Man, the driver and me. Spanish Man speaks again and I stare at him. “Habla Span-eesh?” he asks. I sigh and reply, “No. Sorry. I don’t speak Spanish.” Why I am apologizing? Spanish Man shrugs and gets off at the bus terminal. Now it’s the driver and me. Which is slightly creepy and I make a mental note to self to avoid this situation in the future.

“What stop?” the driver asks.
”Sorry?” I ask? “Where do you get off?” I move towards the front of the bus and say, “181.” 
“Good, I need to turn at 181. Is it okay if I leave you on the southeast rather than northeast corner?” “Uhm, okay,” I reply and resist the urge to point out there are three more stops along this route. “Where are you from?” the driver asks.
I presume Minnesota is not the answer he is looking for and reply with, “My parents are from India.” “Oh that’s why you didn’t reply the other guy,” he says and turns onto 181. He stops the bus and stares at me before saying, “You’re really pretty."

Oh he is nice. My popularity with civil servants is on the rise this week. Yesterday a garbage man whistled at me. “Thanks,” I reply. I am actually having an AMAZING hair day. There is NO humidity and no strand of hair resisted me today. “No, really pretty,” he insists. I smile graciously and wonder why I don’t have this effect on desi dudes!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Dr. Froggy and I have been chatting pretty regularly --- about twice a week. We mostly talk about hockey and the construction of his house, which was nice until he said, “I was watching MTV Cribs and saw P. Diddy’s house and modeled mine after his.” If this works out with Dr. Froggy I’m going to have to lie about my education. I majored in architecture, schooled in a pretty prestigious program. And while I am not a great designer, I will surely be mocked by fellow colleagues for living a rapper’s replica.

Dr. Froggy has also been a nice distraction. Rohit has Desmoids Tumor, which has to be surgically removed. His mother still doesn’t know and I know Meera has to be worried. From the articles Rohit sent me, I have learned the tumor arises from the cells involved with the formation of muscle, fibrous and nerve tissue. The tumor is uncommon and locally aggressive, which means it can grow and destroy healthy tissue and even bones. Luckily these tumors cannot metastasize, but the damn thing is the size of a football. I have never prayed so hard to Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, as I have these last few weeks.

Email to Rohit:
Email from Desi Girl:
How are you? Need anything?

Email to Desi Girl:
Email from Rohit:
Thanks, but no. Maybe you can ask Meera to hang out. I think she needs to get away from me...

I cannot even imagine what they are going through.

Email to Rohit:
Email from Desi Girl:
I can do that! I was just thinking that we have not had alone time in months. Do you know the date of the surgery? Maybe I can entice Meera with a Big Onion Tour or toss a Frisbee in the park. (Let me be VERY clear about this, I am an indoor girl. My idea of athletics is going to the Metrodome to eat nachos and pretzels. Or mall sports like competitive bargain shopping for shoes. I am also ridiculously uncoordinated when it comes to physical education. Only for a VERY good friend would I stuff myself into shorts (the most hideous garment ever invented) and willing flail about Central Park trying to catch objects that are being thrown directly at me.

Email to Desi Girl:
Email from Rohit:
Surgery is scheduled for June 9th. I will be in the hospital for 3-4 days. I am in pain that comes and goes. It is aggressive which is why it must be removed (along with one of the ‘packs’ of my non visible 6-pack). Actually, this is all a ruse to get the insurance company to cover my liposuction bill…I like to think outside the box..

Clearly the tumor has not affected Rohit’s sharp and quippy sense of humor. And luckily I don’t leave for Minnesota until June 14 so I will be able to visit him and be a support to Meera.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I am definitely persistent. Or insane. Einstein did after all say the definition of insanity was to do the same thing over and over again, yet expect a different result. But I’m feeling invincible and allow my industrious little Indian self to engage in another desi groom-hunt.

Today’s findings are Distracting, Appalling and Clueless. Here is what they write, and why I again believe I could develop a very profitable business helping desi dudes and their parents write profiles that would attract women.

Distracting writes, actually Distracting’s sibling writes: I am NOT a stereotypical Indian man... Which is great … and I would continue reading if his photos weren’t so abysmal. One is his passport photo, to which I must simply ask, why would anyone post that? My driver’s license photo is pretty damn good, but I am not photoshopping and uploading that to the matrimonial site. Sadly his passport photo is better than the other one, which is CLEARLY a self-portrait of him looking in the mirror --- I can see the camera flash reflecting to the right.

Appalling writes (sidebar: there are many men on this site who are in the same fraternity as Appalling and they are all searching for this one woman): I am looking for a slim, fair, tall, beautiful, professional woman who will respect my parents and raise a family. He leaves out the part where he expects said woman to cook super-yummy-food-like-mummy-makes and sex her man after clearing the dishes and putting the kids to bed. And good lord, is he all that and a bag a chips? If not, then the anti-Superman should not seek Wonder Woman.

Clueless’s parents have written his profile, the BOLD items are what they write, italics are my commentary: NAME: G***** P*** (yes they ACTUALLY write his real name, I would DIE if my parents did that --- of course that would mean Mom and Dad first have to get a computer and Internet access). Gotra (his caste). Does not wear spectacles. (This is evident from the photo and segues into something I run across from time to time. Some Indians are obsessed with eyesight and I don’t know why it is so “make-or-break” the matrimonial deal. But often non-spectacle wearing boys are arranged to perfect-sighted girls. Similarly some desis match boys who wear super thick nerd glasses to their female counterparts. I wear glasses, contacts more like, and when I'm in India I'm often asked, “what is your power?” Meaning eyesight strength. I cannot tell you how many times I want to reply with, “super sale shopper” or “can consume entire 13 ounce bag of Ruffles in 10 minutes.” But rather than shame my parents I respond with, “-2.25, in each eye” and receive appreciative nods, meaning even though my sight is imperfect, it won’t be held against me in the court of matrimony). Clueless’s parents continue and list his education: MBA from Semi-Decent School on the West Coast. M.S. in Engineering from a Decent School on the East Coast. A decent undergraduate program in India. And one of the BEST high schools in Delhi. That is it. No details about his interests or hobbies.

When I am not wondering how to turn this into a business, I am wondering, do I really want to marry one of these yahoos? I mean really, if this is ALL that is out there, and regularly I am reminded that I am not getting any younger, isn’t being single better than marriage to Distracting, Appalling or Clueless. And who exactly am I doing this for? It doesn’t really feel like I want this as much as my parents do. And while I would love to bring brown home to appease Mom and Dad, they aren’t the ones who will be stuck married to a desi wing nut and his parents. And based on the hellish marriage my cousin is enduring in Connecticut, I firmly feel that the rest of my life is WAAAAAY too long to be unhappy. Because desi marriage is like joining the Marines, you marry the clan, not just the man.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I feel a little out of control. Everyone does from time to time. To cope, I have a little bag of tricks I reach into when I need to swing back to center. First, I do what I am doing right now. I browse through the self-help, fiction and memoir sections of Barnes and Noble. Then I wander to the bookshelf where my novel (when a publishing house buys it) would be found.

Once I feel fueled and inspired I head back to the subway station and board the A train at 72nd Street. The Lincoln Triangle B&N, 115 blocks from my apartment, is the closest. The sound of the train running against the rails lulls me into a trance and I do something I have never done before. I miss my stop.

Oh sure, I have gotten on the wrong train before. I got on the 1 rather than the A when I was first moving here. A few months ago I was shopping at Columbus Circle and got on a D rather than an A because they run on the same track and make several of the same stops. I didn’t realize I was leaving Manhattan until I heard the conductor announce, “next stop Yankee Stadium”. And there was that one time I CHOSE to ride the M2 instead of wait for the M4. The M2 dropped me off at 168th Street and Broadway at 11 pm. But at that time of night, Broadway is deserted and tough. And even this little desi girl who can generally blend in with the Dominicans, was one scared little mamacita! Needless to say, I never did that again.

As I watch the 181st station blur by I sigh and debate my options. The next stop is 190th Street. So I can walk the 9 blocks to my apartment. Or I can get on a downtown train for one stop. Sadly, both options will take the same amount of time, so I decide to be lazy and opt for a ride on the next downtown bound A train.

As I wait, I try to determine what is causing the unrest. It is not depression. I have consulted WebMD and I am doing the things that an un-depressed person does --- shower, work, exercise. I don’t think it is anxiety because I don’t have insomnia and I am managing to live in New York where I ride public transport and regularly contend with the threat of terror attacks. But there are times when I wonder, "is this really my life?" When the rent bill comes, I wonder if I am insane for paying $1395 for a Washington Heights apartment. When I wait 20 minutes for a bus, I wonder if I really hate driving that much. When I troll the Internet for my husband, I wonder if he is really out there.

I get home and drop my stuff in the middle of the apartment. I am too discombobulated to be OCD right now. I have to focus on comforting myself and decide to have masala chai. It’s odd, really. I am not much of a tea drinker, but when I want chai, it must be brewed the way Mom makes it. By first boiling water in a pan, and then adding tealeaves and Mom’s homemade chai masala, letting them simmer together, adding milk, straining into a cup and sugaring to taste. Chai is also the only way I ingest real sugar. I am not really a sweets person. I add Equal to my coffee and drink Diet Coke with aspartame. And I don’t like syrup on my pancakes, only butter. But there is something about Mom’s masala chai that makes me feel closer to home, connected to my family and all things desi.

With my warm cup of comfort, I pad into the living room. In an ideal world I would settle down for a Law & Order marathon. But I'm a planner and have a back-up. I flip through my cd collection and slide in a bhangra mix. Slowly the beat of an electric tabla and dholki (Indian drums) speed up and I am dancing and crying, until I cannot breathe.

And like that comfort returns to me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


A few days after my Broke Back date, he sends a note through the matrimonial site.

Email to: Desi Girl
Email from: Broke Back
Thanks for meeting on Saturday, I had a great time, however, I’m going to be upfront and let you know that I will not be pursuing a 'romantic' interest with you. I believe in keeping doors and opportunities open, whether they be for us or other people, so I would very much like to stay in touch, and meeting up again as friends, if you are comfortable with that. I found you to be an amazingly funny, intelligent, and well balanced woman. Hope this message finds you well and I hope you are open to staying in touch.

It’s okay that he’s not interested. To be honest, I wasn’t interested in someone who has physical limitations. Relationships are hard enough and I don’t know if I’m up for unknowns from day one. I’m healthy and fit and want that in my partner. I shouldn’t have to settle for less just because I am closer to 40 than 20.

Also, I’m curious as to what kind of desi long distance friendship we would have. We are, after all, strangers who live five hours away. I have a hard enough time keeping in touch with my college friends and sorority sisters who I have known for over a dozen years. And frankly, I'm not on this desi matrimonial site for friendship. I need a new friend like I need to be hit by a taxi.
When Harry Met Sally

At any rate, this whole conversation is irrelevant. Broke Back canceled contact with me through the site, so the system won’t allow me to write back to him and say, “nice to meet you, best wishes.” In the long run, the way my life seems to be going, this is best. I’m sure if we became friends; we’d have some when Harry Met Sally moment and he’d he'd kick me Or worse! We'd fall in love, I'd move Upstate, develop allergies to all his pets and THEN he'd dump me. Can you see it now? DOG LOVER DUMPS DESI GIRL.Sheesh! There is only so much desi heartache Desi Girl can take! It is best to avoid it from the onset!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Mom and I return home, stuffed from a lack luster Mother's Day Brunch. Originally I wanted to take Mom to the Neptune Room. The ambiance was a little casual, but the food was delicious. However the portion sizes were H-U-G-E and Mom and I would not be able to finish one plate of breakfast, let alone two! But I chose classy La Grolla instead, which was exceptionally disappointing and nothing like the lovely Italian dinner Meera and I shared, where the water, wine and bread flowed freely. Today, I had to request the carbo basket (which was a part of our meal), twice. I cannot believe I had to even ask once. And you would think there was a drought. The waiter was stingy with the water. Hello, it’s free and we’re parched!!! So pour!

Even though it's the middle of the afternoon, Mom and I change into our jammies. We flop onto the couch and I channel surf. I have lived alone for so long, that I forget how nice company is. “Let’s watch a movie,” I suggest. “Sure, then I will do my puja,” Mom says and reclines onto the couch. Both of us are short so we can lie on the couch and have space left over.

At 5:55 pm my phone rings. I don’t even believe it when I reach over and see Dr. Froggy’s number. What the hell is wrong with this guy? Is English NOT his first language? I told him I’d call between 4 and 6 pm, can’t he wait two minutes for my movie to finish? Mom gets up to pray and I listen to the voicemail, “Hey Desi Girl, I'm going to a hockey game tonight at 7.” I decide to return the call, not really caring if he is driving, busy or getting ready.

“’Ello?” Dr. Froggy says. More mumbling? How can someone who spent the better part of ten years learning medicine be so inarticulate? “Hey, Dr. Froggy, I thought I’d catch you before you went to the game. Is this a good time?” I ask. “It’s a great time, I’m walking there now. I don’t want to take the Porsche downtown,” Dr. Froggy replies. Oh boy, is Dr. Froggy insecure? We're barely 12 seconds into our conversation and he is already making sure I know he can afford boy toys. And why would he lead with that piece of information? I live in Manhattan where New Yorkers regularly leave their Bentleys parked on the street. I would think men would be weary of desi gold diggers. I am not one. If I were, I would have glommed onto Town and Country like he was the last man on Earth.

“Are you going to the game alone?” I ask, changing the subject. “Nah with some buddies. Do you like hockey?” Dr. Froggy asks. “Yes, of course. I am from Minnesota the land of hockey, Vikings and Democrats. But I prefer college hockey to professional,” I reply. “Hhhmm, so you’re a Democrat? That is too bad, I love Reagan,” he asks. Well I love the Clintons, but decide not to share that and say, “I think Hindu Republicans are an oxymoron. You do know that the really conservative right wing of Republican Party thinks you are going to hell for being Hindu, right? Even though our founding fathers guaranteed us the right to believe or not believe." I don't care what he thinks about my politics, I am SO over trying to impress these guys. He laughs and says, “I like the way you think, but I’m a Republican because…” he begins. And I cut him off and say, “…because you make too much money and wish to avoid taxes. Heard it. Don’t buy it. There are plenty of rich Democrats who don’t want to pay taxes either. I'm not rich and I don’t like taxes either. What we need is a VAT tax based on consumption and not this stupid dysfunctional tax bracket system that doesn’t work."

"Damn! You’re tough, I like it,” Dr. Froggy says. He seems to appreciate my feisty style. Is it possible that he GETS me? Perhaps there is some hope for my phone stalker after all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Mom and I return to Grand Central Station and I take her to the lower concourse. I show her where the restrooms are and settle her into a faux leather chair. I feel bad that she has to sit around and read a magazine while I go on my Broke Back date. But she insists she’s content. Then again she is a desi mom who looks forward to the day she says, “meet Desi Boy, my daughter’s hona-wala”. The closest English translation is betrothed.

On my way to meet Broke Back I call Dr. Froggy and get his voicemail. Which is probably best, how much of a conversation can we have in 6 Manhattan blocks? After the beep I say, “Hey Dr. Froggy, I got your messages. My mother and I were in Connecticut today. We have brunch plans tomorrow, but will be home in the evening, so why don’t I try you sometime between 4:00 and 6:00 evening. Talk to you then!” I say cheerfully and hang-up. I hope he does not call back and can wait until tomorrow. Technically I could call him tonight after my Broke Back date, but after spending the afternoon in the suburbs, I need to detox.

When I get to the cafĂ©, Broke Back is already sitting at the bar. I did make a reservation for a table, but oh well, let’s be spontaneous! Broke Back is EASY to recognize because he is as GORGEOUS in real life as he is in this photo. Physically he has inherited E-V-E-R-Y favorable quality from his white parent and his desi parent. I have never imagined ending up with someone SOOO good-looking, but I welcome the idea. “Hello,” I say and slide into the neighboring bar stool. He is already drinking espresso, straight up. Impressive. If I drink a coffee now, I will be until tomorrow morning! “How was your drive in?” I ask. “Good. Good. How was Connecticut?” “Fine,” I lie. I find the suburbs debilitating with the yard work and trips to the car wash.

“Where is your mother?” Broke Back asks. It is nice of him to wonder where I stowed her. “Grand Central,” I reply. He nods. I am sure he’s relieved not to meet her. But my parents had a love marriage, which means they chose to marry each other rather than be arranged, so she thinks a man and woman should get to know each other first. “Where are your friends?” I ask. “We’re meeting at Dos Caminos in about an hour and a half," he says.

We begin chatting and he asks the standard “how long have you been on the site” and “who have you met”. I end up regaling him with bad desi dating stories and he seems to enjoy them. But the whole time I am story telling there is something about Broke Back that bothers me. I can only presume because of his back surgeries he is not able to sit still or for long periods. So how did he sit in the car for five hours? And I hope the only thing broke on this guy is his back…and not, his, ahem, front. I have been a repressed desi girl for so long that when I find the THE ONE, he needs to be an excellent and sensual lover.

We finish our date and I head back to Grand Central. Thank GOD Mom is where I left her. I did worry I wouldn’t find her since we have been separated twice in Manhattan, her fault of course. “How was it?” she asks and puts the magazine in her purse. “Fine, he’s nice and good looking,” I reply, leaving out my concerns: broke back, lives upstate, and jobless. “I want brownies,” I say to Mom and drag her to Juniors. The next thing I am buying her is a damn cell phone. It is damn well about time Mom join Desi Girl in the 21st Century!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We get to my cousin’s place and she and her daughter are setting the table. They see us and my cousin says, “Oh good you've come! I just finished making breakfast. Sit, sit.” It is a good thing Mom and I had scones and coffee because breakfast is idli and upma, typically South Indian food, yummy and filling. Even though my cousin and her husband are Punjabi, his family lives in the South and my cousin has picked up the cuisine.


Indians take great pride in being exceptional hosts, which includes inducing food coma by stuffing their guests senseless. This is less of any issue for Mom. She is very disciplined and rarely snacks. I unfortunately have a penchant for all things fried and fermented, combined with the heifer genes from Dad’s side of the family, I work out like a mad woman to stay a little smaller than average. So I cannot spend my weekend gorging on desi delights.

Immediately after eating the husband leaves his dishes on the table and takes the daughter outside. Mom and I sit down in the living room and I am still surprised at how sparsely furnished the house still is. The bell rings and my cousin heads to the door, “It must be Neeta. She comes on Saturday to clean. Let me tell her to start lunch and I’ll come sit and chat.” I am full, and Mom must be too. We’re only here for four hours and we are going to be fed twice?

A few minutes later my cousin joins us. “I told Neeta to make chai. So tell me, what nonsense did he say to you all in the car?” Doesn’t she worry that her cleaning woman will overhear and know that they have marital issues. Or worse, what if Neeta tells the husband? My devotion to conspiracy theories makes me suspicious and unable to trust. This is why I could never live in India. I am not shrewd enough. There are too many people paying too much attention, to too many things.

“Not much. He makes mostly nice with us,” I reply. Mom shakes her head and sits back into the couch and her feet don’t’ touch the floor. “He told me I made the issues worse and now his parents are uncomfortable around me,” my cousin says sadly. “Doesn’t he take your side at all? I mean you are the mother of his child,” I argue. She shrugs and says, “He says he loves his daughter and says she belongs to his family and I am not really part of that family. She is his but I am not,” my cousin explains. “So where did the little girl come from if not from you?” I ask. His parents sound like they have village mentality.

Two hours later my cousin calls her husband and daughter in for lunch. They appear immediately, smelling like the wind. My cousin, her husband and Mom talk in Hindi and I nibble on my third meal today, and it’s only 1 pm. “Didi, have more,” my cousin insists. Didi is the Hindi word for sister. Generally younger siblings don’t take their elder siblings names, it is considered disrespectful. My brother has nicknames for me. In fact he so  rarely says my name that when he introduces me to a third party  it sounds strange to both of us. We both pause a second longer listening as the last syllable of my name lingers in the air and the third party has moved onto another topic completely.“I am stuffed,” I reply. Ninety minutes to meeting Broke Back, my possible future husband. I feel bad for being so excited to leave, but I didn’t sign on for suburban drama. I have enough of my own!

Monday, October 4, 2010


The following morning Mom and I are at Grand Central Station. Neither of us are big eaters so we’re in Starbucks getting lattes and scones. This is my fourth trip to Connecticut to visit my cousin and her family. Yet, they have never visited me, which sometimes annoys me. Getting to Connecticut from Washington Heights is not easy and they are the ones with the cars, access to the highway and all the conveniences of suburban life. She has repeated told me that the baby makes it hard to come to the City (which by the way is filled with babies). I sometimes think that the married with kids forget what it is like to be single.

I am also a little nervous about visiting them again. My cousin’s in-laws live 10,000 miles and seem to meddle in their marriage, leading to arguments, which I cannot imagine to be very good for their child. The husband also sounds cheap and small minded. He is never home because he works long hours and earns three times what she does, but insists my cousin pays for the childcare, maid service and baby-sitting for THEIR daughter out of her salary though he out earns her by thrice over.

We pull into the train station and the overweight husband, stuffed into a parka and jeans, retrieves us. He is still dutiful enough to get out of the car and touch his hands to my mother’s feet. Once we’re in the car he asks my mom, “Auntie, how are you liking Manhattan?” “It’s nice to spent time with my daughter,” Mom replies briefly but pleasantly. The husband and my mother begin chatting in Hindi and I tune out.

My phone rings and I reach into my purse. By now I recognize Dr. Froggy’s number as this is the third time he is calling in less than 18 hours. I understand that I owe him a call. But Mom and I didn’t get in until after 10:30 last night, which is too late to call someone you don’t know. We were out the door this morning at 7:30 a.m., which was too early to call him. Now I am trapped in Connecticut for the day and it’s rude to make calls while someone has invited you for lunch. After which Mom and I scurrying back to the City so I can meet Broke Back. This means, Dr. Froggy is just going to have to wait his until dinnertime today, which is the earliest I can get back to him.

Sometimes I wish I was a deli counter. I could simply issue numbers and ask the boys to wait their turn.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


The return of my mother is an exciting and stressful time. It’s exciting because Mom is more than one of my parental units. She is one of my most favorite people and as I have gotten older, she has become more of a friend and less of a disciplinarian. When we lived in the same city, I took it for granted that I could see her whenever I wanted. Now that there is a mountain range and time zone separating us, obstacles I put into place, I want to selfishly monopolize her time, which I will do. Mother’s Day brunch and shopping are on our list of things to do. It pleases me deeply that Mom wants to spend her special day with me instead of with her husband and her son! Ha! Take that patriarchic India, who says the daughter doesn’t also rise?

Mom also tends to be popular and somewhat of a celebrity around my friends. She’s here for eight days and already has dinner plans with Jack and Jane for sushi and sake in an hour. Don’t worry, no sushi or sake for Mom, she will have chicken udon noodles. Tomorrow we are going to Connecticut to visit my cousin and then next weekend Meera and Rohit are coming over for an authentic Punjabi dinner. And she just got here yesterday!

What is making our time together stressful is not the over-programming. Being busier than a jack-rabbit on speed is second nature for me. It is the non-stop desi dating phone calls and emails that keep coming. While Mom and I were on the subway earlier today, I missed a call from Dr. Froggy. I contacted him during my “going against what I normally do phase”. In his voicemail he said, more like mumbled, that he was interested in getting to know me and I should call him back. As far as voices go, his was okay. He was born and raised in the States, so I expected his accent to be American. But his tone lacked inflection and energy. 

“I’m going to do my puja,” Mom says. My mother is an extremely devout and pious Hindu woman who regularly reads her religious books morning and night. What I appreciate about her and her faith is that she never imposed it on my brother, father or me. Sure, sometimes Dad’s lack of faith bothers her, but she says we are all on our karmic path. And she seems to accept that her children are luke warm Hindus who grew up temple-less in Minnesota.

I pad back into the bedroom and log on to my computer. Broke Back from Upstate New York (Post 194)  has emailed wanting to confirm our meeting tomorrow. He is set to arrive into the City around 4:00 pm. I pen back a note and suggest a little French bistro near Grand Central Station. He writes back immediately and is agreeable. I log off the computer and flop onto the bed. I need a 45 minute disco nap before dinner.

Grand Central Station
Unfortunately my mind is spinning with thoughts of tomorrow, which is surely going to be a long day. Mom and I have to get up at the crack of dawn, shower, dress and then commute an hour to Grand Central Station so we can take a 45 minute train ride on Metro North to Connecticut. We then have to leave by 3:30 pm so I can stow my mother somewhere in Grand Central while I meet Broke Back.

I feel REALLY bad that she has to sit alone in the train station for an hour or two, but she has repeatedly told me she doesn’t mind. Probably because she just wants me to get married! But she doesn’t have a cell phone and this stresses me out. Just as I feel a little bit of sleep washing over me, the phone rings.

Haphazardly I glance at it and don’t recognize the number and let it go to voicemail. When the phone beeps to receiving the voicemail I check it. It's Dr. Froggy, again, saying he's interested in talking to me and he’ll call back. Okay, but he just called two hours ago. And why, why, why when men call and call they are considered persistent, but when women engage in the EXACT same behavior, they are unstable or nuts? Is it NOT the same action? I sure think so! And does Dr. Froggy think I have nothing else to do but answer his call? He will just have to wait his turn!