Tuesday, November 30, 2010


“I need you to come to India,” my cousin says. Okaaaaay. Going to India is not like running to the corner bodega and getting a quart of milk. Shoot it isn’t even like going to Minneapolis for a visit. Any desi who has gone to India can attest, this is (generally) a time-consuming preparation process.

First, I have to buy a ticket that costs as much as rent. Then I have to make sure I have a visa, which for me is a non-issue. I usually have a 10-year visa ready for my India trips. And while you might think packing is the final step, you are incorrect. Before I can pack my stuff I have to scurry about town buying presents (that I cannot afford) for my rellies who ironically live better lives in India than I do. Every Western branded item has found it’s way to the Delhi marketplace. With the assistance of drivers, my relatives can now frequent the malls and buy whatever they like. After an arduous day of shopping, my relatives go home, have a servant make them tea while they instruct the maids to clean and the cooks to cook. Here in America I am the driver, servant and cook!

Additionally, I have to, yes HAVE TO spend time with some of my rellies in Delhi (Dad’s side) who I am not particularly fond of, and blowing them off is more of a Catch 22, than an option. I already have a pretty strong personality and Dad’s family is heavy on the socio-paths, so from the onset this is not a good combination. And if I ignore the Desi Dad side of the family they have a tendency to blame America for corrupting my values and evading them. Never mind that Dad’s side of the family is filled with some down right awful and mean people. Or that I get along with 90% of Mom's family. No, no, Dad’s family thinks I am the problem, not them. And worse than being seen as an ABCD, I worry that Dad’s side will blame Mom for turning me against them; she is, after all, the outsider to the clan. Never mind that MOM is the one who forces me to make nice with the socio-paths. So see, I cannot win. Without a doubt I will have to spend at least a few days with the paternal Delhi rellies. Hhmmm, now might be a good time to start an Oxycodone addiction.

“When exactly do you need me to come to India?” I ask. “As soon as possible. I have been talking to a pandit in Delhi. He wants to do a puja but needs you to be present,” she explains. “I don’t know…” I reply dejectedly. Normally I’d jump at the chance at fixing what ails my inability to get married. But going to India is a massive and costly matrimonial star treatment. And I’d do it in a Manhattan minute if I knew it would work. But these powder mixing, tilak wearing, star charting pandits have been predicting my marriage for five years and I still have no favorable matrimonial result, i.e. married Desi Girl.

“I don’t know what you did to whom, but your matrimonial stars are for shit,” my cousin says. “Tell me about,” I mutter. “Look it doesn’t matter, just get to India and we’ll meet with the pandit,” she reassures. “Fine let me look into tickets…but is there any chance I am dating the wrong men?” I ask her. “Probably, but what do you mean?” she asks. “Brown versus white.” She sighs so deeply but says nothing. I am sure she, like me, contemplates my desi dating fiasco on a regular basis and wonders how to fix it

Monday, November 29, 2010


“I need to go to Florida before I come see you,” Dr. Froggy says. We are officially into month four of chatting and I am beyond the stage of “hurry this up and let’s meet already”. I actually think I am entering the stage of, “I don’t care if you come or not”. “What’s in Florida?” I ask. I know he’s building a condo there so he can take long weekends, which I understand. Everyone needs to get away, but would this mean, if this works out, that I would have to go to Florida every month? Because I am not doing that. I'd rather go to Minnesota every month (except January, February and March) and see my family and friends.

“Oh some of my buddies and I bought cases of wine and we can’t send them here, so we had them sent to Florida and I am going to pick them up,” Dr. Froggy explains. “So there is a chance I may have to push my arrival time back on Friday.” This is so annoying. Why is he even bothering to come see me if I am the errand between getting his wine and dropping off his dry cleaning. “Well what time do you think you’re coming? Because if it is too late, is there any point in meeting?” I ask. “Well...I’ll make it work,” he says. “Okay, then I’ll make dinner reservations for Friday. Late like 9 pm sound okay?” “Sounds great,” Dr. Froggy says and hangs up.

Immediately I dial Meera’s number and surprisingly she, the-not-a-phone-person, picks up. “Hey, I was just thinking about you,” she says. “Why?” I ask. Even when I am in a cranky mood, talking to her always makes me feel better. “I was wondering what the status report on Dr. Froggy was,” Meera says. I groan, “Don’t ask I am so irritated with him,” I reply. “I don’t like the sound of that,” she says. “He is supposed to come this weekend and he’s going to Florida before he comes here.” “But he doesn’t live anywhere near Florida,” Meera says. Dr. Froggy currently lives in the same town Meera and Rohit are from (and yes I have asked Meera and Rohit’s families if they of Dr. Froggy and they don’t because Dr. Froggy grew up in a different state). “I know. He is getting wine,” I explain. “They have wine where he lives, I know they do!” Meera says. “I know. Like I said, don’t ask,” I growl.

“I don’t think you should meet him if you sound like this,” Meera says. “Yes, well experience has taught me to keep my options and mind open,” I reply. “Well, I don’t think it will work out if you aren’t even interested in meeting him, let me ask Rohit what he thinks…” Meera says. I hear her explain the situation to her husband who says, “I agree with Desi Girl, he should be putting some effort into this, wine? Get real.” Meera gets back on the phone and I say, “Well, whatever he is coming so I need to plan dinner. Any ideas?” “Yes!” Meera exclaims. “Crispo on 14th Street. It is my new favorite place. And guess what, Rohit and I will crash your date! Tell me what time you’re having dinner and we’ll make reservations for the same time.” “How about 9 pm?” I ask. “Perfect,” Meera says.

Okay, sure, I mean what can go wrong?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Luckily Lands' End makes an Extra Large canvas bag that fits the PC console perfectly. I slide the not-that-heavy-but-bulky computer parts into the Extra Large and Large bag, pull one bag onto my right shoulder and the other onto my right. I lock the apartment and begin the one-block commute to the subway station and the 100 blocks to meet Tapan. He is leaving for a 10-day business trip tomorrow and has offered to get the PC to Vipin.

I cross 181st Street and manage to balance on the double long escalator and head to the subway platform. The goddesses must know I have 40 pounds of computer equipment on my person and train comes quickly. Even if taxis were easy to find in my neighborhood I would have opted for the train, I prefer to save the $25 cab fare.

The ride to the UWS is relatively eventless. The man sitting next to me helps me settle onto the seat and reminds me that the MTA police can ticket you for using the seat for personal items. Even though it is challenging to drag all this stuff, I prefer it to giving my money to Best Buy and the Geek Squad.

Thirty minutes later I am in Tapan's apartment. It is pretty clean for a single man. "Hey thanks for bringing this to me," Tapan says. Is he kidding me? He and Vipin are doing me the favor! "Uhm, no! Thank you! You have to thank Vipin, too. He was SO nice on the phone. And didn't seem to mind chatting," I reply. Tapan laughs and looks inside the bags. "He said he enjoyed it. I warned him you were chatty but it didn't concern him, in fact he found you unsurprisingly funny," Tapan said. "He gets me because we're Punjabi," I reply. Tapan rolls his eyes in an amused fashion.

Ten minutes later I leave. I find Tapan to have similar traits like Dad and Town and Country. It must be because entrepreneurs are a unique type of workaholic. They cannot separate themselves from their work. And while Taps seems balanced I worry that at some point I will lose out to his work and I will become like Mom, sharing her husband with a mistress she cannot overpower. Or worse, a time pass like Town and Country treats me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


"What is the computer doing now?" Vipin asks. He is Tapan's Punjabi Tech guy. "Uhm, nothing...Not good right?" I ask. "Well...no," Vipin replies and gives me additional computer directions.

We've been on the phone for over 40 minutes, defragging, control-alt-delete and other virus-control things I don't understand. This has also given us time to chat and get to know one another. Vipin is from Bombay, now Mumbai. He's not only Punjabi, but of the Sikh faith. He has a lovely voice and accent and I wonder if he is clean-cut or full-bearded. And I have to say, not because I am Punjabi and half-Sikh, turbaned sardars are sometimes the hottest desi men. They tend to be tall, well-built and have handsome faces with chiseled features that cannot be hidden behind their beards. There is something very regal and essentially Indian about a man in a turban. And I really admire Sikh men for maintaining their customs in America, especially in this day and age.

"Okay, I hate to tell you this, but I need full access to the computer. I tried to take over your computer using a temporary access code, but whatever virus you have is over-riding my commands," Vipin says very kindly and gently. "I see..." I reply and wonder what to do next. I live in Washington Heights and Vipin lives in Brooklyn, it is like we are on opposite sides of the moon. "I have an idea," Vipin suggests. At this point I am open to anything. "What is that?" I ask. "If you can get the PC console and screen to Tapan and he can get it to me I know I can fix this...." Vipin says. "No problem. I will coordinate with Tapan," I reply. I am willing to do anything to avoid Best Buy's Geek Squad and the dispensing of $200. "Great. I really want to help you and I was getting worried about how," Vipin says as relief fills his voice.

Okay, between Tapan and Vipin, these are the NICEST desi men I have met in the City (excluding my family and friends). I feel very indebted to Vipin and his genuine interest in helping. I am so used to being the ultimate care-taker that I forget what it feels like to receive assistance. "I wish I could help you back, Vipin. But I don't suppose you have a need for an architectural skills in an NYC rental, right?" I ask. He is quiet for a second and says, "Well my parents have a flat in Bombay and they are looking for some renovation ideas, do you think you can help with that?" This is brilliant! "Yes, I can. Can you send me a pdf of their drawings? I will email it to my brother," I reply. "Sure thing!" Vipin says.

And just like that, we are making a deal, bartering 21st Century style!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Meera will be displeased, but I arrive for the Tapan Date Two on-time. Taps has texted to say he’s running late, which I understand happens. But I traveled over a 100 blocks and he just had to walk across the Upper West Side.

I sit on a bench and wait for him. The weather is unbelievably nice and I spend some time watching couples stroll their double-wide baby carriages around the park path. God, do I really what that? Kids? To avoid dealing with my biological clock, I turn my attention to the Hudson River and stare into New Jersey. I sigh deeply and find this view of the water and tree line very pacifying.

“Hey!” I hear from behind me. I turn. It’s Taps wearing long cargo shorts and a tee-shirt with Om on it. He looks like a cross between a desi rapper and surfer. It’s cute. “Hey you,” I reply and stand. “So sorry I kept you since I live close and you came all the way from Washington Heights.” Okay, you know what; at least he appreciates the effort I invested in getting here on time. “Shall we walk? The weather is great!” Tapan suggests. “Sure,” I reply. I am wearing VERY comfortable walking slides, made by a brand called Sudini, whose tagline is “shoes that make love to your feet”. I mean really, is there any wonder why I bought them?

We walk for about 30 minutes and come across an outdoor park café. “Any chance I can interest you in a snack?” Tapan asks. “Sure,” I reply. I am quite agreeable today. We sit down and order a bottle of wine white and peruse the menu. “I don’t eat meat, so would it be okay if we order mozzarella cheese sticks and French fries?” Tapan asks. Has he met me? This is my idea of yums, vino and deep fried apps. I manage to restrain my giddy bad food joy, and say, “Oh sure, that would nice. I so rarely eat this stuff,” I lie and flash an absolutely sweet smile. “I know, it’s a little wrong, right? We should eat something sensible like a salad, but we’re on a date,” Tapan says. Agreed.

“I used to eat meat,” Tapan explains, “but after my divorce I stopped. I became much more compassionate towards everything including animals and I decided to become a vegetarian.” I nod and say, “I think that’s great. Every now and then I think about giving up meat, I really don’t eat that much. But I love bacon and eggs…” Tapan nods, “That’s cool. I think you should do what feels right…Say, that reminds me, how is your computer?” Tapan asks.

That damn thing now has 300 Trojan horses. It’s like they invited 50 of their friends to take up residence on the PC without running the request by me. “Not good. I installed the router…” I begin. “Really? By yourself? I am really impressed!” Tapan says. “Not that I don’t think you can do it, but you know…” Yes, I understand I am very girlie and clearly un-techie, how else would I have the corral of Trojan Horses in the first place. “Well, don’t be too impressed. My router install disk didn’t work and I had to call customer service,” I, the self-saboteur-who-cannot-accept-a-compliment, say. “So what? That is why they give the number in case the disk doesn’t load, I’m impressed,” Tapan re-directs. Okay, here is a really nice desi man. Good job Tap’s mom!

“Thanks,” I reply and finally accept a compliment. “Now that the router is installed I have no idea what do with the PC,” I say a little deflatedly. Tapan nods, sips his wine and says, “You know I have tech guy, he's Punjabi…”“They are the best,” I say with a wink. “So you say,” Tapan winks back. Taps's family is from Rajasthan. “I bet my tech guy would help if you could get the computer to him. Would you like me to ask him?"

Yes please!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I duck out of the dark subway tunnel and walk along the sunny side of 81st Street towards Riverside Park, hoping Tapan will be “the one” --- or “the one, close enough”. 

I am so ready to be done desi dating, especially since I have intermittent worry that I may end up alone, a crazy cat lady with no cats. Then again, I have been single so long that I wonder if I can function in a relationship. Maybe I have more in common with Town and Country than I thought. Maybe we both have attraction towards one another but lack the ability to compromise and make a relationship work. And this is why we act like brain-dead buffoons around each other.

Luckily, most days I am an optimist who longs for days of companionship, a life of we rather than me. I would prefer to have dinner, on a dining table, with a husband, rather than eat take-out sushi on the floor of my bedroom in front of the television, by myself. Then again, desi dating is a two-way street and I find it unfair when the aunties try and pass of their lack luster sons as catches. When I meet someone who is described as athletic and he turns out to be a 250 pound, 5’-7” man, I wonder if his mother is blind, delusional or drunk. Or perhaps auntie was hoping I was blind, delusional and drunk so I wouldn’t notice that her son outweighs me two-fold.

And by no means am I shallow. Yes, I’d like a man to be fit rather than half way to diabetes before he turns 40. But who cares about hair and height, if a man is confident and brilliant. I want someone to get me, to challenge me, to know me. I’d love to meet someone who let me run down the street, but knew when to pull me back before I slip on the ice. Someone to make me laugh and a voice to comfort my worries. And with what I'm enduring with desi dating, I'm wondering if  “the one” might not be desi. Why else is this so hard for me when 1 billion desis have mastered the groom hunt? Maybe I'm doing what Einstein warned against, that the very definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Sometimes I do think being desi is part of my problem. When I run into aunties at the grocery store or the Roseville Target they tell me all sorts of things like. “My Pinky is a genius.” “My Ruby is a doctor.” “My Bubbli is a millionaire.” The problem is Pinky has book smarts and no life skills and gets lost looking for the loo without hubby’s help or GPS. Yes, Ruby is a doctor, but she’s a Ph.D. And Bubbli MARRIED a millionaire. I find this desi mentality frustrating at times because I allow myself to negate my own accomplishments. I am an educated, well-functioning member of society. So what if I don’t tote Louis Vuitton bags and wear Manolos, and maybe I never will, but the boots and bags I wear, I can afford.

As I wait for the light at Broadway to change, a girl with purple hair walks by and it reminds me to be who I want to be, who I need to be. This is the joy of NYC, she accepts everyone as they are. You want to have purple hair? Great, welcome! Desi Girl, you are single? Fine, be bold and fabulous. Be you and don't concern yourself with what others think.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Now that my date with Tapan is nearing, the desi double standard plagues me (I am willing to bet 50 rupees that Tapan does NOT spend an iota of time contemplating this). Normally my natural reaction is to be myself and date freely. But I don’t think I can, or should in this case. Even though Mom is not an uber-Indian, ultra-conservative mother, I couldn’t bear her “friends” gossiping about Desi Girl, the slut du jour. So I have to think and re-think every move I make with Tapan so no stories of my “shameful” (drinking, dancing, sex, dating non-desis) behavior (if any) make it back to her. I really thought moving to Manhattan would be an excellent way to ensure my two lives never collide --- silly me.

In defense of the aunties in the GIN (Great Indian Network), it is innate for them to don their saris, snack on samosas and spend Saturday nights chatting with their friends in search of potential spouses for their children. Desi match-making has been going on for 5,000 years and a lot of pressure falls on the aunties to find suitable mates for their children (especially the girls). This is why I think the aunties in the GIN can be ruthless at times, a cross between a raging bout of poison ivy and a mob enforcer.

This puts pressure on us kids to be the best desi we can be. We learn at a young age that knowledge is the road to all of life’s successes. We begin by honoring Sarasvati, the patron goddess of education, and never touch paper with our feet. We respect books and know our minds are a gift from God, not to be wasted on drugs, cigarettes and alcohol (oops!). There is no discussion about school, desi kids know to study hard, get straight As and earn admissions into top-notch undergraduate universities that lead to even topper-notch graduate programs that hopefully allow us to tote shiny degrees --- MBA, JD, PhD, MD, DDS. After that, if we studied hard enough and the Gods look favorably upon us, we might land a job title like --- President, Director, Doctor, Esquire, Chief of Staff, Leading Authority. After that, the only thing left is raise a family in an outlandish residence, preferably in a coveted zip code and grill tandoori chicken (or paneer for the vegetarians) on a stately Weber.

Luckily America makes allowances for desi girls, we can push marriage back to 30 or 35 in pursuit of higher education. And because girls are considered Lakshmi, a treasure to be cherished, the Gods celebrate fathers who keep their daughters jeweled in happiness and honor mothers who find suitable husbands. This is why (I think) marriage and divorce matter so greatly to desis --- there is so much riding on proper matrimonial alliances. This is why, again, I remember (like in Post 173) in our god-fearing Hindu culture, women are the custodians of the faith. It is when the women, not the men, enter foreign marriages or divorce, children became lawless and Indian society breaks down.

Leading me back to --- I cannot have sex with Tapan, ever. Or at least until I am sure we’ll get married, which won’t be happening on our second date.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Dr. Froggy and I have been chatting for what feels like eternity (but in reality three months). I now take every second or third call from him, mostly when I am SO bored that I’d prefer to talk to him over dirt. Because my mother raised me to have manners, I spend most of the Dr. Froggy call fighting the urge to say, “Please stop taking about your Porsche and BWM. Because I got it, you’re rich. In fact you are SO rich your cars cost more than the average person’s annual salary in West Virginia.” And God help me (Durga can you hear me?!) if I have to listen to another story about his house modeled after P. Diddy’s crib. He has insulted my inner designer with faux-architecture so badly that she jumped off the GWB last week.

The fact that Town in Country is ignoring me helps me get over him. And there is the prospect of Tapan, the Minnesota Desi entrepreneur, who has asked me out for a date tomorrow! With some strange turn of events, I have become the desi juggler with 2.5 men (Town and Country is only getting half-credit for being in my dating circle).

This now leads me down a potentially complicated and never-faced before situation. With Tapan, I am about to consider dating 1 of 500 desis who can trace me back to my mother, which means for the first time in my life, Mom may learn about my desi dating antics. So I cannot act with wild and reckless abandon like I did with Town and Country. And let’s not forget that Tapan and I already got drunk on our first date. Since I am nearing Indian jail time with all the desi dating rules I insist on violating, I better exercise some good chaste judgment, which leads me to the issue of chastity and the desi girl.

To me, this issue is SO insane on SO many fronts. I could understand if I was 18 that I should exercise safe sex or abstinence; there is no need to become the desi Bristol Palin and soil my parents’ good family name. But 15 years after college graduation, desi parents have to understand that sex is a biological need. I am sure desi parents have noticed that the population of India, excluding desi ex-pats, has topped 1 billion. With an international population like that, some desi somewhere is clearly not abstaining. I don’t understand how we desis can program a computer, take over the Silicon Valley, make up 20% of the doctors in America, yet not master birth control.

I’ll be honest, as a woman in my 30s the thought (sex) crosses my mind more than ever before. I am finally at a point in my life where I am comfortable with myself and my sexuality. I understand sex can have no emotional meaning if it is with someone I have no romantic interest in, like Shouldn’t Have Kissed Him  (Post 230). And that having sex with someone like Town and Country could blow my life apart, especially if he ignored me afterwards. But I was raised very conservatively and my parents made it clear good, chaste, and virtuous, God-fearing Indian girls don’t have sex with anyone other than their husband (I feel pretty certain they did not have the same talk with my brother).

And trust me on this, as a girl coming from the immigrant, and slightly backwards, and very gossipy desi community of Minneapolis-St. Paul, if I am going to dip my feet into dating from the familial pool, I better be damn sure I can swim the sharks. Indian dinner parties, with the round aunties clad in saris who now look like silky sausages adorned in gold, are dangerous waters for desi girls and their reputations to drown in --- should the aunties learn I had sex with Tapan, now or in the future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today, I'm ultra-lame. I live in Manhattan, the sun has set and where am I on a warm Friday night? Boat Basin? No. Balthazar? No. Where? Best Buy, UWS. Doing what? Router shopping. Sidebar: like snow removal and lawn care, I think router shopping is a boy job.

I'm armed with the router spec sheet. My techie friend from (Post 233) did research for me so I don’t end up in the electronics department being hosed because I am the ultimate sorority girl, adult version. “Uhm, hi ... my name is Desi Girl and like my computer totally has this really bad virus, or something, and like I totally need a router-doo-hickie thingie…"

Once inside the two-level glass building I walk over to the information desk and ask where they keep the routers. They direct me to the back of the store. I step over to the counter and wait for help. A portly Indian boy whose name tag says Raj comes over. He is about 19 with clear skin and looks bored by the sight of me. Great this should be fun. Customer service in NYC is already an anomaly, but service by desis to desis can really suck.

“Can I help you?” Raj finally asks. Wow, to say he is bored is an understatement. It seems as though I have TROUBLED him to do his job, that hello, he is being paid to perform. And perhaps he hates working here. I used to work in a popcorn shop, believe me I know how to hate a job. Or maybe his parents are uber rich and make him work to learn the value of a dollar. I can relate to this too. When I was 12, I used to work in my parents’ popcorn shop. A side business Dad bought to teach my brother and I about earning and saving money. (Don't worry I was only pouring sodas and sweeping the floor).

Then again, Raj may subscribe to the old adage where sometimes Indians treat other Indians like shit because they can. This is what I don’t like about being Indian sometimes. There is something innately competitive about Indians and we don't ban together the way the Jewish community does. I find Indians, especially North Indians, are quick to blame the Muslims and then the British for enslaving them, but in reality desis are pretty good at drowning our fellow desi. With that said, not all desis are heartless --- some of my closest friends are desi --- Meera, Rohit and a host of college chums.

“I need a router. Where do you keep the D-Links?” I ask, very businesslike. Raj purses his lips, ones that are in desperate need of Chapstick. “Over there,” he says and points at something behind my back. When he finally looks up at me, he runs his tongue over his teeth.
Is he kidding me with this? He isn’t going to SHOW me? Fine, I don’t need him anyway.

I turn on my heel and walk away. I review my spec sheet and compare prices. From behind me I hear, “The D-Link you want is on sale, but I don’t know why you’d buy it." How nice of Raj to waddle over and help. “My tech friend recommended it,” I reply and silence Raj, who looks at me blankly. “Thanks for your help.” My tone dismisses him. He returns to the counter and glowers at me. What is his problem? He didn’t want to help, so he can't get mad that I have no need for his “customer service"? Sometimes I think Hindu pandits invented arranged marriage as a way to force nice girls to marry total dumbo-heads like Raj!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In the morning I hear my phone alert me to a text. I pop open one eye. Wow. A dull throbbing ache pulses between my ears. Yikes. How many drinks did Tapan and I have last night? And didn’t I vow not to feel like this? Again?

Through the fog of last night I blink, blink, blink my eyes. My contacts have fused to my eyes. First there were margaritas at Café Frieda. Then we went to a wine bar. I remember sitting in a quaint corner to the left. Only one chair at the bar, and Tapan insisted I sit. So I did (you don't have to tell me twice in 3" heels).  Someone must have realized we were on a date so they up their seat for Tapan.

I flip open the phone, squint and read the text from Tapan, “Desi Girl, Had a fun time last night. Hope to meet up again soon. Did you reach home ok? Hope the train was fine that late at night. Tapan."

Oh, shoot, I think, as the night slowly comes back to me. We had two rounds of red wine. And I begin to remember him talking about his company and how he travels a lot for work. And he must have walked me to the subway station. How else would he know I A trained it home? Did we kiss? Hug? Why can’t I remember? And more importantly I better not tell Rohit and Meera that I rode the subway that late, again. It was not the safest decision, yet, it is one I perpetrate over and over again like a crime I cannot stop committing.

Text from Tapan: p.s. let me know about your computer. Maybe one of my tech guys can help you.

Clearly I told Tapan about my life as dirty Internet virus girl. Slowly I begin to remember Tapan mentioning that he has some really great IT guys in his company's tech department who he was certain could help me. Could Tapan be the smart, sensible man --- the leader of the desi engineers --- I have been looking for? I better pen a text immediately … ooo, after I pop some Tylenol to kill this headache.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Tapan, the vegetarian, sits across from me. We just finished a pleasant dinner and are sipping pomegranate margaritas. Thankfully Tapan drinks. And he seems to be a “cool” vegetarian. The type that doesn’t judge other Hindus for consuming meat.

Out of the corner of my eye I study him. He has a nice build, black hair, brown eyes, and full lips. This is terrible to admit, since in my day there weren’t many desis growing up on the frozen Minnesota iceberg, but I don’t remember Tapan. At all.

“How often do you go back to the Twin Towns?” Tapan asks. “A couple times a year. What about you?” I inquire. “I was there a few months ago, but I go less and less since my parents moved to India,” he replies. I can no longer picture Tapan’s mother’s face. But I remember she was tall, slim and gorgeous. A very progressive career auntie with a confident presence, so different than her contemporaries.

“It’s amazing how much Minneapolis has changed. The Guthrie Theatre relocated to the Mississippi River and Nicollet Mall is filled with all sorts of trendy and unique eateries. It feels like the moment I came to Manhattan, Minneapolis got hip,” I muse and take another sip of this very yummy drink. “Have you been to Delhi lately? Now that place has changed a lot,” Tapan says. “No kidding,” I reply and continue, “When I was growing up I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts in America or India. Now I go to the Delhi pubs and wonder who are these scantily clad girls smoking ciggies and flirting with buff desi dudes?"

Tapan laughs. “I know! Our parents raised us so conservatively in America. And these Indian desis are so much more open and free than we ever were!” He is spot on regarding the incorrect stereotype Indian desis have towards American desis. I battled my paternal cousins growing up. They thought I was loose and easy for having male friends in school. But unlike my cousins I was not getting a segregated educational environment where the girls went to school in the morning and the boys in the afternoon (very strange behavior from the culture that invented the Kama Sutra). It didn’t help that my close-minded paternal cousins decided that my male classmates were my boyfriends and I was sleeping with them. Little did my *brain-trust* of paternal cousins know, American boys don’t date geeky desi girls with glasses, moustaches and one looooong caterpillar of a unibrow.

To this day I still remember the one summer when my brother and I went to visit Dad’s relatives and the mean girl cousins ignored me for weeks on end. This is why patience is a virtue and karma is great. Twenty years later, the vast majority of them haven’t really changed. Most of them aren’t educated, sophisticated or worldly. And as time the great healer proves, my brother and I (the not-so-bad American desis) are the ones who grew up to be the civilized Indian kids who respected their parents.

“There was a time when I knew all the frozen desis. Now I walk around downtown and wonder who all these brown folks are,” Tapan remarks. “That’s because when we were growing up there was a max of 500 desis in Minnesota. Now there are 20,000 --- with the H1-Bs working in the IT departments of Target, Cargill, 3M…” I mutter. Tapan laughs, “We were the few, the proud, the spicy…"

The waiter comes with the bill and at the speed of light Tapan draws his credit card. “So it’s early, did you want to get another drink? “Sure!” I reply. Why not. The only thing waiting for me at home is that defunct and diseased computer.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Despite the computer’s inability to properly run two programs at once, I cobble together a system to write emails. It requires logging in and out of Word and email in a completely inefficient and mind-numbing manner, taking four times as long to do anything. But it is better than nothing.

I sit down in front of the computer, careful not to spill my wine, and hold the phone to my ear. I am talking to a tech wizard friend who troubleshoots in IT for a profession. “When was the last time the computer worked?” the friend asks. He is also my brother’s fraternity brother and a former co-worker. “Saturday, but even then it was weird,” I reply and take another big gulp of wine. Tapan and I have our date tonight, 7:00 pm on Upper West Side at Cafe Frieda, the same place I met Mr. Mustachio (Post 25).  I really shouldn't be going on a date with anyone. My tension has been wound so tightly that I have had a headache for two days. Nor should I be drinking before meeting Tapan, but this crisp Sauvignon Blanc is delicious.

“What were you doing? Downloading porn?” the friend asks. I unexpectedly laugh really hard, the first time in days. “No. I wish. That would be more interesting. I was trying to open the BBC’s homepage,” I reply. “What is it doing now?” the friend asks. “Hhhmm, the scan just finished and it says I have 250 Trojan Horses,” I reply. “Yeeeeah, okay…whatever you downloaded is lethal,” the friend begins and sighs. “You’re gonna need a professional,” he says. “Oh like Geek Squad?” I ask. The friend groans, “Is that your only choice? Don’t you know any desi engineers?” he asks. “Nope,” I reply.

“Well Geek Squad used to be great,” the friend explains. “But then Best Buy bought them out and their service went down the tubes.” This actually brings about a bigger issue for me. If I choose to work with the Geek Squad I’m going to have to drag a 40-pound computer 120 blocks on public transport. “But before you get tech help, buy a wireless router and install it,” the friends instructs.

Uhm, has he met me? He wants me to get a what? And then do what? Under my watch, the PC contracted the cyber plague. Should I really be the one to buy and install anything to it?

Sunday, November 14, 2010


There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with my computer. Over the course of several hellish days my computer has COMPLETELY slowed down, taking three times the normal time to load emails and open word documents. It is in these moments that I wish I was married to the techie-est, desi-est, geekiest, virus-removing Indo-engineer on the planet.

The computer flashes a grizzly grey screen, then a mean blue screen, it takes a long pause like it's thinking, then the hourglass icon appears, but nothing loads. I employ the few rudimentary tech tricks I know like control, alt and delete, and force-turning the computer off. When I turn the computer back on it takes my email almost 15 minutes to open. Clearly it is possessed by little cyber exorcist gremlins.

Normally I am described as talkative, passionate, outgoing, compassionate, impatient, stubborn. But currently the computer makes me want to do bad things. Like dig the hammer out of the toolbox and smash this sucker to smithereens. Or drop the CPU into the bathtub and listen to it sizzle in the water. The stress of this situation is making my eye twitch. I work from home, have a major addiction to Google, rely on email as a main source of work communications --- a non-working computer has landed me in deep shit.

For someone who is normally very organized I have a huge problem. I have not backed up ANYTHING since moving to New York. You would think I would learn from when my computer crashed four years ago and I had to employ the Geek Squad. But no. I don’t have any mailing addresses, emails or phone numbers memorized, much less written down. It is ALL in on that computer. If yahoo deletes me from its system or I lose my mobile phone I am beyond screwed. The only numbers I memorized are: my parents, my brother’s mobile, the Minneapolis office and Meera.

Then just for a brief second, like a sick joke, my email opens this email.

Email from Tapan (from Post 217): Hi Desi Girl … A common family friend conveyed your contact information. I believe you were friends with my sister back in the Minnesota day! It is nice to have fellow alums from the North Star state here in the Big Apple --- I think most of them fled to Callie! Would you be interested in catching up? I do travel for work, but have an NYC reprieve this week. If you have some time this week let me know.

But the virus closes the email before I can reply. Now what? I live in Manhattan and have been disconnected from the entire world.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


It’s almost 1:00 am when I return from Rohit and Meera’s. Out of habit I switch on the television. I used to worry about spending too much time with the idiot box. But when you work from home and are alone as much as I am, the background noise feels like a companion.

I flop down on the couch and the Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him argument runs an annoying relay through my head. He’s correct about this Town and Country “relationship”. I should tell Town and Country I have feelings for him – just rip off the band-aid and let the air heal or sting the wound.

Before I email Town and Country, I sms Meera that I'm home. It’s this safety measure we do. I toss the phone onto the couch and turn on the computer. As it boots up I duck into the bathroom to remove my make-up and brush my teeth, making a mental list of all the “what not to dos” to be included in the dating atom bomb email, filled with truth and honesty.          

Email from Desi Girl: Hey there – I received your sms a couple of days ago. I debated about contacting  or ignoring you. In a very immature fashion I decided to ignore you. But I don’t think that was the right thing to do. So, here goes. While I think our behavior under the influence of alcohol has been less than lovely, I have decided that everyone makes mistakes and I am putting all that behind us. And while there is some really strong attraction between us, I'm only interested in you, if you are serious about developing a real relationship with me. If this interests you, great, please contact me. I am willing to start this all over. If not, then let's not waste any more time and end our communication now. I think you would agree that I deserve more than this. Best, Desi Girl.

With the press of the send button I feel extremely confident that Town and Country will be shit-scared when he reads this “confessions of the heart” text. Which, according to my conversations with men friends, will result in Town and Country avoiding all future Desi Girl contact. Short of proclaiming undying love, I am pretty much asking for something he is not willing to offer. He has told me on several occasions that he has no time or space in his mind or life for anything other than work, and definitely not a relationship. Which leaves me wondering why Town and Country doesn’t Pretty Woman this and find him a “professional i.e. Vivian type escort”?  This is, after all, New York, where everything is for sale, the exception of course being Desi Girl.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


All single people can attest to this --- a dinner invitation for a home cooked meal is a real treat. And Meera and Rohit don’t disappoint. After finishing a lovely meal of salmon and vegetables, we settle into the plush, green living room couches with homemade brownies. It’s Rohit, Meera, me and their friend Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him (I smooched him, once, after WAY too much wine, not recommended).

“What’s going on with Town and Country?” Meera asks. “I don’t know. He emails me and then disappears. He’s like the Desi Houdini,” I reply flatly. “He’s married,” Meera decides. “We’ve been over this before. He’s not married. I’ve been in almost every inch of his house, there is NO trace of a woman,” I assure her. “You were in his bedroom?” Meera asks. “Yes, that is where the master bathroom with the leaking window is. He asked me to look at,” I add. “Who is this?” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him asks. “OMG! He is the PERFECT man for Desi Girl. He gets her, and is Punjabi, smart, entrepreneur, travels…” “Whatever you think he is, after a girl goes into a guy’s bedroom she shouldn’t be surprised that he acts like this,” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him says.

I release an irritated sigh, “I wasn’t in the bedroom committing lewd acts…” “No, those came after,” Meera inserts. I smirk, ignore her and continue, “Town and Country wanted my architectural perspective.” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him ROLLS his eyes, yes, ROLLS his eyes in the manner of a bored sorority girl and says, “How naïve are you?” Uhm, excuse me, rudeness! “What?” I snap. “He isn’t hiring you to design his house; it was a ploy to get you in his room.” “You don’t know him or the context,” I argue.

Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him nods and then says, “And then what?” “What?” I ask. “What happened after the review of the leaking window?" He asks in a condescending tone. I inhale and then slowly exhale; this is getting combative. “We went out a few times and then radio silent for a few months. And then he texted me, but blew me off, now he’s sorry and but I’m, ignoring him…” Okay, now that I am hearing myself share the details, I wonder if I should do these kinds of sound checks AFTER each date I go on to determine if there are elements of insanity lurking in the shadows of a second date.

“I see,” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him says slowly and raises an eyebrow at me. “And this is someone you want to date?” He asks with mock amusement and full on judgment. In retrospect, this is when I should have stopped the conversation. Perhaps talking about someone I want to / wanted to date with someone I hooked up was not the best idea. A point Siobhan will reiterate later. “And how did you end up in the master bathroom?” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him asks. “Well we were on a date and he needed to let someone into the house and he asked if I wanted to join him…” “I’m sorry, you went HOME with him?” Shouldn’t-Have- Kissed-Him asks. Now I really, really, really wish I had said nothing. In fact I kinda wish I hadn’t come to dinner at all.

“It sounds bad, but we talked and shared personal stories…” I begin. Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him’s brows pop to his hairline. “If you are going to go to a guy’s house after just meeting him, none of this should surprise you," Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him says. “So what you’re saying is I deserve this?” I demand. Shouldn’t-Have- Kissed-Him has opened every wound and boy heartbreak I have ever had. “No, what I am saying is that you shouldn’t be surprised,” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him says in a demeaning tone. “I see, so if a woman dresses in suggestive clothes she deserves to be raped? Good to know,” I ask in a caustic tone. Everyone in the room, including the dog stops breathing. Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him looks alarmed and quickly calms his facial reaction. “That is not what I said. Don’t put words in my mouth."

Somehow I manage to say, “Look I was interested in Town and Country. Shoot I probably still am. In the beginning I may have been okay with a casual, sexual relationship. But the bottom line is we have heat, had heat and probably the heat is not going away. He contacts me, he disappears, I don’t know what is going on so I am just ignoring him,” I almost believe every word I say.

“So do you like him?” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him asks in a genuine tone. “I guess, yes,” I reply. “Then call him and tell him. Otherwise tell him to stop contacting you. Ignoring him won’t fix this. He’s obviously attracted to you, but there is something going on with him. Men aren’t like women, they don’t understand ignoring as punishment,” Shouldn’t-Have-Kissed-Him says. “So either ramp it up or let him go.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


A few hours later I'm debating where to shop. I must heal thy self with some new dresses and consider the usual suspects – Ann Taylor, Loft, Banana Republic, and J. Crew – which makes Rock Center the best choice. But I don’t believe in paying full price and don't have a coupon for any of those stores.

The phone rings. I glance at the number. Meera. Which is odd. She's not a phone person. “Hey, are you okay?” I ask when I answer. She laughs, “It’s because I never call right? I prefer to text,” Meera says. “I know, it's one of the reasons I love you,” I reply. “And yes we’re all fine. How are you?” Meera asks in her upbeat, chipper weekend voice. She is much more direct and focused during the week. “Hhhmm, I’m in a mood. To shop,” I reply and flop onto the couch. I love this couch. I just finished paying for it eight months ago. I actually sleep on it most nights. “Where are you shopping?” Meera asks. I sigh, “I’m thinking Filene’s Basement.” “Great! Any chance you can go shopping around dinnertime?” Meera asks. Of course I can. I couldn't be more single and without commitments if I tried! In addition to some new dresses, I think I really need to get a life. “Yes, I can go shopping later. Is that what you want me to do?” I ask. “Yes, then you can come over for dinner. Rohit and I want to see you.” “Great, see you then!” “Oh, we’re inviting another friend, too.”

* * *

Two hours later I take six dresses (the maximum amount allotted by the very stern and unsmiling Filene's sales associates) and shut the door to the dressing room. In fairness to the sales associates (I used to be one) while I was standing in line I watched customers argue with them and insist they were going to take 10 items. Which then caused a manager to come back here and ask those people to leave if they were unwilling to follow store policy.

I slide off my shoes and immediately feel gross. I don’t know why, I haven’t put on any weight. I slip on the first dress and blame the hot fluorescent lamps and a crooked three-way mirror for why I look like a Minnesota moose in Manhattan. I pull the dress off and go through the same routine for five more dresses. That’s when that strange girl problem washes over me --- my mind is READY and SET to spend my precious dollars but my heart refuses to fall in love with anything enough to want the impending transaction. This is no good. How can I NOT possibly find one thing I like? I have never been so desperate for the therapeutic release that comes swiping my credit card and signing my name on the electronic pen pad.

I glance at my watch and groan. I need to be at Meera and Rohit’s in 45 minutes so I don’t have time to take another pass through the store. This is just not my week -- no boyfriend, a computer that is defying me and now, no retail therapy. This is proof, God is a man.   

Monday, November 8, 2010


My computer refuses to open email and a word document at the same time, so my frustration has officially hit Mach 10. Now, I realize that Desi Girl is a little technologically challenged. I don’t have a Blackberry or IPhone because I don’t believe a mobile phone should do anything other than make and take calls (don’t worry I will change my position on this in the future and join everyone in the 21st Century). My DVD/VHS combo unit plays just fine so I see no need to throw it away simply because it's unhip and clunky. As much as I try to deny it, a few printers have died at my hands. One actually started smoking and I unplugged it before it caught on fire. So I'm not entirely sure if today's unsuccessful attempt to check email is my fault, but the days of DOS are behind me, and I know modern computers can run more than one program at a time.

Because my computer thinks four minutes is the appropriate amount of time needed to open a word document, I have time to think about last night’s conversation with Siobhan. I told her I really wanted to be married. To which she said, “I don’t know about that. I think, if you wanted to be married you wouldn’t be selecting men like Town and Country. Because this isn’t a man who wants to get married. To you or anyone else."

In the manner of Obi Wan instructing Luke Skywalker to search his feelings, I do the same and try to pull reason away from emotion, the heart from the head. Clearly there is a bold, invincible risk taker inside of me. She packed up and moved for “what if”. But then there is this woman who has become emotionally entangled in someone who checks in and out like she’s managing a bed and breakfast. And how do these two people co-exist inside of me? They must have met volunteering and like wine.

This now has me wondering if I'm the problem. What if the Risk Taker thinks she is confident and has self-worth and keeps pushing and seeking those bright desi stars. But the Bed and Breakfast Manager has become desperate, willing to latch onto any man with a sexy accent and lose herself in the lull of his vowels. And more importantly, HOW does Town and Country know when to reappear? It’s like he has Desi Girl-dar and KNOWS when I have moved on from him. Because it is at that EXACT moment he returns in a trail of texts that pack an unbelievable emotional punch.

And why don’t I tell him to jump into the Ganges? Is the B&B manager that broken that I am unable to resist him? Or maybe I am actually fixed, but under the influence of Town and Country, he breaks me. And I know the Risk Taker inside of me is potent, she gave up wine for 193 days and is mastering that dirty word “budget”. And clearly I know how to break up with people, I have ex-boyfriends. So what is the pull with Town and Country? He expresses mock interest, yet I am scared to cut him loose. Why am I putting up with this? Am I worried that he will be the last man to ever express interest in me? If so, don't I think I deserve more and better? Or is it possible that my desperation is hitting an all time low that I am lowering my standards just to bring brown home and appease the family? And let’s just temporarily ignore the fact that I’m not even sure I want to marry desi.

Unfortunately my self-mental exam is cut short when my computer does the unexpected. Instead of uploading the BBC homepage, it downloads the Thai language onto my yahoo toolbar. How odd. I can barely read Hindi, what I am going to do with Thai? I hit cancel, log out and force a blue screen shut down. It’s officially an awful day and I need a really strong mood stabilizer --- retail therapy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Today is my college ex-boyfriend’s birthday. I don’t know why, after 10 years of not speaking to him, I still remember him on “his day”. I guess some people are so impactful that, even after they're gone, you continue to journey with the memory of them all through life.

The Ex was easy to be with. We used to have so much fun making late night Taco Bell border runs for chicken soft shells and nachos. We’d sit in the car about talk about the future while calling each other by our pet names, Pashy (him) and Ka-poopsly (me). And it’s hard to forget a man who buys you gigantic, life-sized stuffed animals from FAO Schwartz. I still have those ridiculously expensive toys, a duck and a bear. They’re in the closet of my childhood bedroom. I don’t have the space to keep them in New York. And I don’t have the heart to part with them.

Looking back, I really thought I’d marry him. I mean sure, there were a few guys who expressed interest in me. But it was like they didn’t exist. I thought he, The Ex, was THE ONE. Love is like a thunderstorm, I guess. Cool and scary. You open your heart, mind and soul to someone and love makes you so powerful that you’re powerless.

When my phone beeps I flip it open, expecting a note from Ainsley or Meera. Instead I gasp. This has to be a sick and twisted joke, I think, and read the text message from Town and Country: Sorry about not getting in touch when I was supposed to.

In the few weeks that had elapsed since Town and Country contacted and then ignored me, I was finally able to (again) get over the stinging rejection of this man’s passive aggressive, “I want you, I don’t want you,” bullshit. It makes me want to break something over his head. Like a rotten egg, which is exactly how he behaves. Which leads to the scarier issue with Town and Country, in that I fear, if I let him, he has the power to blow my life apart. This is why I have to learn from past mistakes and become powerful, not powerless against him.

If I want to be in control of my heart, I have to become 100% desi goddess, and NEVER speak to Town and Country again. He has the pull of the ocean, once I get into the water and wade too deep, he will drown me. So instead of replying, I delete his message.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


“Did you talk to Tapan?” Mom asks. How the heck does she remember him? And why, after all these years, is she bringing him up? “Who?” I ask and play dumb. I have been single and desi long enough to know, be suspicious. I shift the phone into a more comfortable position, God I hope this isn't a long conversation. “Tapan Gupta, Usha and Prem’s son? Their daughter, Tara, was your friend. Remember? Anyway, Tapan lives in New York, now,” Mom explains. I am pretty confident she knows, I know Tapan’s current location.

“Actually, Tara wasn’t my friend, she was someone I hung out with when the Ahuja’s had dinner parties and we kids were sequestered to the basement while the uncles drank and the aunties cooked. Remember?” I correct and ask. “But why do you bring him up, Tapan?” “Oh, Daddy was saying Desi Refugee (Post 217) suggested the match and Daddy wants to know if you contacted Tapan."

I’m really not in the mood for Punjabi Papa and his Pindu (Punjabi for village) sidekick arranging my marriage to someone I have not talked to in 20 years. More importantly, has anyone told Tapan that I exist? If so, I am certain that an interested man, would put some action steps into place and at least make a phone call. Shoot, I’d even settle for an email that said, “My mom knows your mom, and Desi Refugee passed along your contact details, wanna get married?” And after what I have endured thus far with desi dating, if Tapan is not willing to do anything, I am not interested. Crazy speak for an old maid, I know, but I have standards and self-respect.

“Did Desi Refugee tell Dad that Tapan is ‘die-vorce’?” I purposely pronounce “divorce” like a Punjabi auntie. An uncomfortable silence passes back and forth along the 1,000 miles that separate Mom and me. “Hello? Mom, are you there? I asked you a question, did Desi Refugee tell Dad that Taps is divorced?” Mom says nothing.

“Or is that all I am now? A crusty spinster with a decaying uterus who needs to get married to anything that is still breathing. Hell, why don’t you find a kangaroo and I’ll run out to the Queens temple and find any pandit willing to marry me off. Sound good? I mean as long as the kangaroo can support a wife, who cares about anything else.” Silence. I have done what is pretty hard to do, anger a very calm, easy-going woman. She’d have to be. She’s got me as a first-born and her in-laws are a wacky bunch of out-laws.

I count to ten and say, “Look…I know you’re worried that once you and Dad are gone there were will no one to take care of me…” In an atypically curt and irritated tone Mom cuts me off, “Who said? I never said that!” Oh really? She wants to play this game today? Alright. The maternal side of my family is so emotionally incestuous that there is no separation of Church and State, no secrets are sacred. “Well Mom, do you want me to call your niece in Bangalore and ask her? She told me, that you told her, that you are worried about what happens to me when you are gone.” Mom groans, “Why did she tell you that? She wasn’t supposed to say anything and stress you out.” “Oh, so it’s true. You want me to get married so you have some peace of mind? Who cares if he beats me or makes dowry demands like what that sloth is doing to your other niece…” “Enough! That is not what I said. You take everything I say and twist it,” Mom scolds. “So I cannot be concerned for you? Is that it? Fine, then you do what you want!"

“Fine!” I snap and we hang up. I am going to bad desi daughter hell, I just know it. It takes everything I have, not to throw the phone across the room. The fact that the phone will cost $100 to replace helps sublimate my rage. Slowly I begin to feel ashamed for snarling at my pocket-sized mother whose only crime was to love me.

Gross, I'm a total bitch whose guilt has her desiring potato chips. Some French fries and onion rings would be nice, too. I want to stuff myself full of fried delights, hoping to smother whatever ails me, waiting for zits to freckle my face. The healthier option is to buy stationary supplies. Purchasing pens and post-it notes is a very calming experience for me. But I have no storage space. Damn these small Manhattan apartments!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


“I dated a professional desi cheerleader,” Dr. Froggy says. Oh great, now we have to have the “here are the people I dated” conversation which eventually leads to the “what is your number, how many people have you slept with” question. Since I’m a prude, I never worry that anyone will think I'm a desi skank. I actually lie and add a few lovers, so I seem like a competitive dater. And to be completely honest, I am the best lover I have ever had... “So what happened to the cheerleader?” I ask.

It’s surprising to learn that a desi girl was allowed to become a “professional cheerleader”. Every ABCD (American Born Confused Desi as the desis in India refer to us) I know was pushed to earn straight A’s, gain admittance into exclusive private colleges, ascend to the Dean’s List, and succeed as accountants, orthodontists, lawyers, engineers, financiers, doctors, architects, so they can go on to reside in America’s finest zip codes. Think I jest? I wanted to major in psychology and my parents said no. They were paying, so they were involved in the selection of my major. Do you think I wanted to be an architect?  I don't like math and I can't draw. “Oh the cheerleader, well I broke up with when she wouldn’t agree to quit. I need a smart, professional woman,” Dr. Froggy says. “And in light of the Kobe Bryant scandal, I don’t want my wife anywhere near athletes."

* * *

The next day I wake and feel disdain for the sun. I once had an enviable social circuit and the giddy-up-and-go of the Energizer Bunny on amphetamines. Now I have to scrape all the motivation I have out of the energy jar and slap myself together just to shower.

Somehow I manage to get ready and meet my college chum Abby, her daughter Madeleine and her French foreign exchange student Élodie. As I turn south onto Columbus headed for Isabella’s I don’t realize Élodie is a teen. From the distance she is as tall as Abby with thick, layered shoulder length, elegantly tucked behind her ears. When I reach them I am taken aback. First, Élodie is freaking hot. She has bright eyes, a little upturned nose, and full, pink lips. Next, her teeny tiny itty bitty clothes surprise me, a yellow tank top and a skirt so short it reveals long shapely legs that I would kill for. I’d also kill to be 5’-10” and weigh 110 pounds. Oh well, maybe my next life. And dear God, I hope Élodie does not bend over, because she WILL most certainly moon Manhattan.

The waiter seats us and Abby makes introductions in French, “Desi Girl blah, blah, blah, Élodie, blah, blah, blah.” When dinner is served we try and converse, but my French is ridiculously bad so Abby continues to play translator. As Abby and I sip wine (Élodie cannot believe she cannot partake like she does in France) I ask Élodie if she’s enjoying New York. Through Abby, Élodie recounts tales of shopping, listening to music, watching American television, and im-ing her friends every night.

Élodie pauses and slowly in French asks Abby a question. Abby laughs so hard she almost spits out her wine. Élodie and I are both taken aback. And I begin praying Abby is not choking. I am definitely not the right person to be left responsible for a toddler and a scantily-clad French foreign exchange student. When Abby regains her composure she looks at me, smiles, and gives Élodie a firm directive. A huge smile comes across the young girl’s face. She reaches under the table, pulls out a shopping bag and fishes out white, platform shoes. “Oh. My. God!” I squeal. “These are the cutest things EVER! Are they comfortable? Where did you get them? What will you wear them with? So PERFECT for summer!” I rapidly fire comments and questions. Élodie responds with a string of French words. Abby giggles and translates.

Élodie smiles and excuses herself for the loo. A few minutes later Abby is still laughing and says, “When Élodie asked if you would want to see her shoes, I realized that you should have spent the day in the City with her not me!” “Yes, well, we’d have language issues,” I say. “Oh I don’t know about that. You seem to speak the international language of shoe!" Abby counters. 

When Élodie returns she gives me a shy glance and whispers something to Abby. Abby nods and says, “So tomorrow we’re going to see the movie Mama Mia! Élodie would like to know if you can join us.” The hopeful look on Élodie’s face is so sweet, that I could imagine turning her down. “Of course, I would love too!” I reply. Élodie flashes a final smile and finishes her dinner. Thank goodness I love ABBA and Meryl, Pierce and Colin Firth!
Who knew I’d be more popular with girls half my age, than age-appropriate desi men?!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


When I lived in Minneapolis, I MADLY coveted Manhattan in the manner of a rock star/super model/sports hero. To say I was in love with Manhattan was an understatement. Against the setting Minnesota summer sun (while swatting at gnats and mosquitoes), I thought there was no better, livelier, vibrant, electric City than New York. Manhattan was where the strong thrived and survived, as the saying went, “if I can make here I can make it anywhere."

For the first nine months I romanticized everything about Manhattan --- it was sheer perfection. Because I had never liked snow, driving or driving in snow, I loved Manhattan for having public transportation. I loved that everything could be delivered and I could walk everywhere. In time, as relationships change, I wanted to call Manhattan out on her bad behaviors. Thanks for the subway, but can you fix the damn A train line. And really, at $4.79 per box, I don’t heart the price of Triscuits. Manhattan, I’d heart you more if I could afford an apartment with a washer and dryer IN my apartment. And stop with the rain and its cousin the wind already. Why did I have to lose another umbrella to the umbrella graveyard?

When I ride around the train and I sight the severely pierced woman with short purple hair and black clothes, and her preppy looking boyfriend, I am pleased that there is a freak bigger than me in the City. I am even more pleased that she found a beau. There is hope for me.

I love that I can tell friends that I am “on the grid” or “off the grid” and they immediately know if I am Uptown or Downtown. And I love that we talk in coordinates --- SE corner of 80th and Madison, or NW corner of 8th Avenue and 50th Street.

But the thing I always heart about Manhattan is, no matter my mood, I can get lost on an island that is 13 miles long and 2.5 miles wide. My favorite book and I can take a journey to the West Village and not notice a single solitary soul for 40 minutes. I can put on my IPod and a relay of my favorite tunes becomes my companion. I can lay around on a blanket in Central Park. I love that on a super crowded rush hour subway, I am alone. Unnoticed. One of millions. And I no longer feel like a Midwestern misfit killing time, but somoene who finally belongs.

Monday, November 1, 2010


A few weeks ago I began responding to every other call/text from Dr. Froggy. Soon a week was elapsing between our communications. Evidently this tactic worked because Dr. Froggy was putting some effort into having more interesting conversations and finally suggested getting together.

Text from Dr. Froggy: I was hoping to meet up with you sometime. Between my on-call schedule and condo closing here is my availability: August 2/3, August 16/24, Sept 13/14, Sept 20/21 and Sept 27/28.

I look at the sent details and see Dr. Froggy’s text came the day I was at the beach. How odd that it took so many days to notice. And this time I didn’t mean to ignore him. Maybe this is best. I must purge myself of Town and Country and decide to completely throw myself into REALLY getting to know Dr. Froggy.

And if this works with Dr. Froggy, I will have to move, but I don’t allow myself to focus on the negatives like leaving New York or his nasal voice. So what if he doesn’t read. I remind myself that Dr. Froggy is well educated, so what if he doesn’t travel. I can always see parts of the world that interest me with friends or my cousin. Dr. Froggy is a bit of a workaholic, obsessed with making money. More like, he is obsessed with making sure I know he makes a lot of money. But I let that go too. After all he suggested the meeting.

After living in Minneapolis for all those years and men refusing to come there in winter because it was too cold, or whatever other excuse they came up with, I no longer fly to meet men. If a man wants to meet me, he can fly to Manhattan. My location now trumps every other American City, and gone are the days when I am the beck and call of desi men.

And I truly believe that if a man is serious about a woman, he will come meet her. So I text back.

Text from Desi Girl: Sure, let’s meet.