Thursday, December 30, 2010


The saving grace for this 16-hour non-stop flight from Newark to New Delhi is that I have an aisle seat. However, I am not sure if that will make up for being seated next to a sardarni and her baby. I cannot tell if the child (who is VERY cute and slightly precocious) is a boy or a girl as Sikhs immediately start growing out their kid’s hair.

For the first hour Sardarni doesn’t really chat with me, which is fine. I want sleep the entire way to India so I can sync my body clock with another time zone. I do have to say, I find adjusting to India easier than Europe. I think the 12 hour difference between the States and India is less stress on me physically than the 6 hour difference with Europe.

This being an international flight, the snack service begins as soon as we reach a sensible flying speed and altitude. I order wine and sip it slowly. I will again order wine with dinner and then pop some Benadryl and knock myself out.

Before dinner service begins my neighbor speaks, “Are you traveling alone?” “Yes,” I reply. “You stay in New York?” she asks. “Yes, I’m in the City,” I reply. “We’re in New Jersey,” she shares. “Your child is very cute,” I say. She smiles and shakes her head, “and very naughty.” “What about you? Do you have kids?” she asks. “Nope, I’m not married,” I reply. Immediately she gives me the same sad look the sari-clad aunties gave me at my brother’s wedding, a weak smile followed by the head tilt. It’s like I told her I had AIDS. Or bubonic fever. Geez lady, you can’t catch singletonitis like you do the cold.

This is why I detest Indians and their judgmental ways, and it is in these moments when I am reminded that despite how expensive and hard New York can be, I am so glad I moved here and got away from the desi mentality of the aunties. Which then begs the question, why I am subjecting myself to India if I can’t deal with Indian mentality? Aiy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The car stops along the curb at Newark and the very nice Indian uncle driver says, "That will be $70." I nod and pull cash from my wallet. He takes the two suitcases out from the trunk, I slide my backpack on and wheel my bags into the airport.

Newark Airport is much nicer than I imagined. Growing up when we went to India, Mom and Dad took us through JFK. It was us and 400 other Indians flying Air India and toting more than the allotted amount of carry-ons. Newark baggage and security is quick and with three hours before my flight I wander around duty-free looking at perfumes and chocolates, wondering who I may have forgotten and should I pick up a few small things for gifts.

I feel my phone buzzing in my pocket and I pull it out to see Kehar Singh (Post 4) calling. There is something about him that makes me feel light and happy. “Yes?” I say into the phone. “What are you doing?” “I’m at the airport in duty free, do you want me to pick up your booze?” I ask. “Sure, one tequila and one vodka,” he says. I tuck the phone behind my ear and walk over to the alcohol section. “When you’re in Delhi are you going to fix my family’s house?” he asks. This again?

Way back in the day, like the early 60s, Kehar Singh’s parents’ hired Dad and my uncle (Dad’s older, but not the oldest brother) to design their house. I guess there are some issues with the alignment of some window that Kehar Singh likes to mention every chance he gets, mostly to be funny, so today I reply with, “Well Dad is in India now, do you want me to take your complaint to him?” “No, I think I’ll kidnap you and make him pay ransom so we can recover our monies.” I snort, “Fat chance in getting that money. I am sure Dad would PAY you to take me off his hands!” He bursts out laughing.

We hang up, I pay and then wander around the airport food court and decide on a slice of cheese pizza. I have gotten accustomed to $2 slices on every corner of New York that I wonder if I can get through the next two weeks without a slice. While I’m eating, I get a little annoyed that Dr. Froggy has not even TEXTED me a good-bye. I understand that he’s busy saving lives, but how long would it take to write one text? Armed with angst and disappointment I pull out my phone.

Text to Town and Country: I’m going to India today. (There is some part of me that is clearly broken and demented, because I kinda hope he wonders if I am going there to get married).
Text to Desi Girl: When do you come back?
Text to Town and Country: Two weeks.
Text to Desi Girl: Safe travels.

It’s a damn good thing I’m going to India to fix my stars; I have to stop this very bad Town and Country engagement once and for all.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I cannot believe how exhausted I am and I don’t even leave for New Delhi until tomorrow. This trip has been a long time coming and I fully expect the next 16 days abroad to be hell on wheels desi style. I have some interesting (this is me being Minnesota nice) paternal relatives, most of whom I tolerate, mostly because they make no effort to “get me”, yet they expect that I “get them”. You have no idea how optimal it is to have 10,000 miles, 12 times zones and a HUGE ocean separating me from them.

And unfortunately, Dad’s side of the family has some uneducated folks in it --- uncles with 8th grade educations and aunts with no teeth (well, actually I think she had them fixed). So I am sure an urban, American (female) singleton meets village-minded Punjabis is going to be quite the explosive set-up. 

Meeting the pandit is distressing me too. A lot of work has gone into arranging this marriage puja to avenge my stars and bring them back into matrimonially friendly skies. I won't lie, sometimes I just wish the pandits would say, "Desi Girl did something really back in her past life and her burden to bear in this one is no husband". I can handle the truth, whatever it is, just put me out of my misery, and more importantly, put Mom out of her misery. If I am going to be a spinster, fine, say it and let's get a final word on destiny and move on. Then I could stop wondering if I could learn to share my bathroom with another person.

I crack open a Diet Coke and grab my phone. Dr. Froggy knows I leave for India tomorrow and he hasn’t wished me a Bon Voyage. I’m going to half way around the world to a country where the plague still break outs, doesn’t he want to wish me well? Because I want him to wish me well! “Hello?” he says. I hear the noise of a sports bar in the background. “Hey, what are you doing?” I ask. “I’m watching the hockey game with some buddies. What are you doing?” he asks. “I just finished packing,” I reply. “Oh, okay, can I call you back? Or tomorrow? I can barely hear you,” he says. “Uhm, sure,” I reply.

I almost explain that I am going to bed soon and a car is picking me up mid-morning because for some reason I thought the non-stop 16-hour Continental flight from Newark to New Delhi sounded like a good idea. But I don’t share this with him. I am so tired that I have to sleep, now! And so I do.

Monday, December 27, 2010


The morning of my Dr.-Froggy-in-Philly-date finds me in a wild panic. I leave for India in eight days and my to-do list seems to grow daily. Clean my apartment (in case my plane crashes I don’t want anyone to think I was a slob). Buy my toiletries (American shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant and toothpaste). Buy a bottle of perfume for my massi (maternal aunt, she’s like a second mother to me and I have not found anything fitting for her) and I also have to get a couple of lipsticks for my other massi. Then I have to hold my mail, clean out the fridge and freezer, finish some volunteer projects, and pack. Dad has opened an office in New Delhi working on a parking ramp design contract and asked me to bring him a laptop. Oh and Kehar Singh (Post 4)  wants me to buy tequila and vodka and leave it with his sister. Thank goodness the liquor stores and wine shops are open seven days a week in New York.

There is a small part of me that thinks I should spend my day packing, not gallivanting via Amtrak to Philly, but it is too late to cancel and I pull my black, sleeveless, will-not-wrinkle, Ann Taylor Loft dress over my head. The nice thing about this dress is that for $50 I look SENSATIONAL. I truly think anyone can look amazing all the time, as long as they dress the body they have, not the body they think they have.

Because I have started to have chronic pain, a dull throb in my left foot (which may or may not be due to my shoes, I should ask Dr. Scholl) I grab black slides to wear from my apartment to Philly. I will slip into my strappy sandals before dinner. I lock the apartment and venture out to Penn Station, board my train and three hours later I’m in Philly.

With ease I find Dr. Froggy and we hug. He’s in his blazer again and has done date planning. “So I thought we could go to Independence Hall and then see the bell before dinner,” Dr. Froggy says. “Sounds great,” I reply and belt myself into the passenger seat of his BMW. I am VERY thankful he left Kitten, the Porsche, at home. “What time are dinner reservations?” I ask. “I didn’t make any,” he says. Whaaaaat? I googled Buddakan in Philly. It is T-H-E place to go, hot and happening. And on a Saturday night how does he think we’ll get a table? Oh well, maybe Philly dining is not a combat sport like Manhattan, and I stop caring. Mostly because I cannot control what I did not plan.

We see the sights and as it gets dark, I change my shoes and we head off for dinner. Buddakan in Philly is as nice as Manhattan, though the hostess is a little snottier than I would have thought. I presume customer service exists everywhere but New York City. As I suspected, with no reservation on a Saturday night we have a two hour wait and make our way to the bar. Dr. Froggy and I sit and chat over red wine. “Should I order an appetizer?” he asks. How sweet. “None for me thank you. I won’t be able to eat dinner if we snack.” He nods and we continue talking about his house and I give him ideas to how to expedite the construction of it. A part of me wonders how someone so smart could have made such a colossal misstep in negotiating with the contractor.

After dinner he drives me back to the train station and while I find him nice, I don’t feel butterflies and bells. But I caution myself against fireworks. Mad lust with Town and Country sent me on an emotional roller coaster ride. “So, we should meet up again,” he suggests as we walk into the train station. “Sure, when are you free?” I ask. “I’m not on call next weekend,” he shares. “I’ll be India,” I remind. Mental note to self, nice but does not listen. “But let’s catch up by phone before I leave?” I suggest. “Sounds good,” he says and with another hug I board a Manhattan bound train.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


My fingers race across the keyboard, the long lost computer is finally working and running like a dream. "Are you typing?" Dr. Froggy asks. We're on the phone planning our next date. "Yes, I got my computer back from Tapan the other day," I reply. Dr. Froggy is silent as I suspected he would be. Men generally don't like it when you talk about other men in front of them. I continue typing and wait for him to speak again. I am focused on pursuing men who are interested in the two-cars, picket-fence, desis in the 'burbs lifestyle. It matters not that I am an urban girl. I feel that romantic salvation will be found in dating the opposite of Town and Country.

"I was looking at the conference schedule that my dad and I are attending. I think I should be able to pick you up from the Phillie train station around 3 pm," Dr. Froggy says. "Okay," I reply, still typing, half listening to him. "So what time does the train leave Penn Station?" Dr. Froggy asks. "I dunno," I reply. He sighs REALLY deeply. I stop typing and ask, "What?" "How am I supposed to pick you up when you haven't looked up train schedules?" he asks "Sorry, I just got my computer back and I'm moving saved information back onto it. Let me finish this and then check timing and email you back," I reply. "Fine," he replies. "So I spoke to my contractor about my house," he says. Ugh, P. Diddy's replica again? "And?" I ask.

"I told him that a reliable source, which would be you, told me he's jerking me around and no more Mr. Nice Guy. I held his payment and it got him back on schedule." Dr. Froggy says. "I told you it would," I reply. "You seem distracted, are you okay?" Dr. Froggy asks. "Yes, sorry, just a lot to do before I go to India," I reply. I can't believe that this weekend I am off to Phillie and next weekend, New Delhi. "Hhhmm. So I am thinking we can go to dinner at Buddakan," Dr. Froggy says. "Oh great, I LOVE Buddakan," I reply. The mention of dinner finally captures my full attention and I move away from the computer. "I thought you hadn't been to Phillie before," Dr. Froggy says somewhat puzzled. "I haven't. I have never been to Pennsylvania actually, and I want to see the Liberty Bell when we're there," I say. "Fine, but when did you eat at Buddakan?" he asks. "The one in New York," I reply. "With whom?" he asks. Is he jealous? That is kinda sweet, and so I reply, with the truth, "my brother and sister-in-law."

Thursday, December 23, 2010


“Hi Pinky, how are you?” Siobhan says. “Hi, Binky!” I squeal into the phone. We have pet names for each other. I have no idea how they came about, but I can say we were not drinking at the time. We might have been under the influence of a cheese plate, though.

“I’m good, how are you?” I ask. “Have you heard from ‘HIM’?” she asks. Big sigh, and then I respond with, “No. But it doesn’t matter. I am looking for a suitable man. This is why I have a date next week with Dr. Froggy.” “The over-weight guy?” Siobhan asks. “Well, yes,” I reply. “I don’t like him either,” she says. “He’s not that bad,” I say. “I think someone who isn’t honest about their appearance and thinks you won’t notice that he’s overweight and not average is indicative of a deeper issue. I mean look at Town and Country. Clearly he’s a man with issues,” Siobhan says. Had I known I would be talking to her about him tonight I would have bought some adult beverages. “Well, yes. Clearly Town and Country has issues. Don’t we all?” I ask.

“I don’t mean this to be mean. But you’re not special. A guy like Town and Country who is wealthy and successful in New York has tons of girls at his disposal. Model-hot girls. And I think you should remember that for self-preservation,” Siobhan says. “Well I don’t know him all that well, but maybe you’re right. I sometimes wonder if I am part of a rotation because he seems to reach out when I have almost gotten him out of my system which takes a few months.” “Or maybe he’s an alcoholic. They tend to act like this too,” Siobhan suggests.

“He’s no more an alcoholic than I am,” I counter. “And Meera has asked me on two different occasions if he’s married,” I say and laugh. “It’s not funny. You just said you don’t know him very well. He might be married. You never know,” she warns.

This is true, but Town and Country is two things, not married and did not take advantage of me when he could have.


Tapan, Swamiji and I are sitting at Shun Lee, a high-end formal Chinese restaurant. “What looks good?” Swamiji (a Hindu priest) asks. “I love noodles,” I reply. “Swamiji and I are both vegetarians,” Tapan says. “Oh, I’m not,” I reply. “But you can be one tonight, right?” Swamiji asks and looks upon me with peculiarity. “Sure,” I reply. I can be almost anything for one night.

* * *

After dinner Tapan hails a cab and we go back to his apartment on the fourth floor of a four-floor walk-up. Thank goodness I work out. And, should this work out with Tapan, am I really going to have to carry kids up all these steps?

Once inside the apartment Swamiji sits on the floor, cross his legs and closes his eyes. Tapan leans in and says, “Swamiji is going to mediate.” I really, really, really wish I had the patience to meditate and clear my mind of all thoughts and worry. “Want to see the apartment? I think you might like it as an architect,” Tapan explains. “Sure,” I reply. I have given up explaining that I am not an architect.

The apartment is quite nice, with living, kitchen, bath and a bedroom on the lower floor. There is a circular stair up to another room and then the jewel in the crown, outdoor space and I don’t mean fire escape, I mean a big patio with tables, chairs, plants and Astroturf. “Wow, this is NICE!” I reply. “I know, it’s why I took the apartment and I am getting a deal, too. I took over a friend’s lease,” he explains. “Who knew there were stars in Manhattan!” I muse and stare at the black sky, studded in shiny stars. “The full moon is pretty amazing, you should come back and see that some time,” Tapan says.

We return to the living room and Swamiji is done meditating. “What did you? Nice apartment right?” he asks and winks at Tapan. “It’s a great apartment,” I agree and sit on the couch. Tapan sits on the other side and Swamiji continues sitting on the floor. We make light conversation until Tapan says, “Women don’t realize what a distraction they are.” “I’m sorry, what?” I ask. “You heard me,” Tapan says and nods. Swamiji flashes a huge smile and leans in forward, seeming very interested in how this conversation will unveil itself. “This is a woman’s problem?” I ask. “Yes,” Tapan says and nods. “Really? I am tired of women be blamed for men’s issues,” I reply. “How’s that?” Tapan asks. “The issue here is, men are weak, unable to resist the attraction, thereby feeling the distraction and then blaming the source of adulation, who did nothing wrong. She didn’t ask to distract to him, now did she? And why didn’t he resist?” I say. Swamiji laughs and claps his hands, “Well done! Are you lawyer?” “No,” I say and glance over at Tapan who smiles and accepts defeat.

Ten minutes later I saw good bye to Swamiji. Tapan and I pack the computer up into tote bags. Outside Tapan hails a cab and tucks me and the computer into it, shuts the door and waves. I wave back and then the taxi lurches west and north to the Heights.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


To purge Town and Country from my system I am doing EVERYTHING I can to distract myself. Yesterday Siobhan said I must not want a healthy relationship because I am not seeking one if I keep acting on my attraction to Town and Country. So last night I emailed Tapan to retrieve my computer and meet the Swami. Tapan asked me to join them for dinner tomorrow and I agreed. And oh, in my weekly call this morning to Dr. Froggy I mentioned my upcoming-Tapan-meeting-to-collect-the-PC and how I thought Tapan might be interested in me. Now Dr. Froggy and I have a date next week (I suspected this might jump start the cardiologist into action).

Because I have taken an emotional beating, I need to be around someone who is going to build me back up, restore my faith in me --- Meera.

“I don’t get this guy,” Meera says as we're walking west through the 100s to yoga. I groan and say, “Me either. But I have to stop talking to him, thinking about him, everything.” I avoid a rock and fall back into step with her. “But can you? This has been going on for months!” she says. “Ugh. I know. But how am I ever going to meet a nice man when he’s around?” I ask and take a drink from my water bottle. “The problem is that Town and Country’s a nice guy, Desi Girl. He could have totally taken advantage of you, but instead he basically said he didn’t want to use for sex….” Meera states. She is indeed correct, which is the quintessential problem with Town and Country. He is not a jerk. He has never led me on, has always been honest and operated with integrity.

We get to the yoga studio and for the next 90 minutes, I shift my body through downward facing dog, chaturanga, the crow and finally savasana. When I’m done, I feel a little more in tune with myself, and very aware that if anything in my life is going to get better, that I have to be the agent of change.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Vipin and I are sitting in the back of the restaurant and eating kati rolls against orange walls are clad in Bollywood posters. We are currently not speaking and enjoying food nirvana. I think I surprised him with the quality of India comparable yummy delights.

“Is is hard to be a turbaned Sikh in the States?” I ask and take a huge bite of my achari paneer (spiced homemade Indian cheese) kati roll. Vipin wipes his lips and shakes his head, “Not really, not harder than in Bombay. But it’s probably easiest to be a Sikh in Punjab.” “Why’s that?” I ask and sip my Diet Coke. “Indians are cruelest to Indians. We blame the British and then the Muslims for mistreating us, but we do a damn good job of treating our fellow Indian like garbage.” “So true, and why is that? I dealt with the same thing growing up but I thought it was because our brown community was stunted by the snow!” I muse. Vipin laughs, “Nope, welcome to life as a desi!” “Punjus rules,” I say and wink. “Vhai guru!” he adds, Punjabi for praise God.

* * *

I finish lunch with Vipin and head towards the A train. My phone beeps, alerting me to a text and I flip open my phone.

Text from Town and Country: Hey. How are you?
Text from Desi Girl: Good. And you?
Text from Town and Country: I don’t think we should see each other tonight.
Text from Desi Girl: Why? (I swallow hard. My heartbeat quickens and bumps against my chest. Rejection again?)
Text from Town and Country: I’m getting nervous. I don’t want anything serious and you do. So I don’t feel right about what will happen. And I don’t want anyone getting hurt.

He means me; I’m the one who will get hurt.

Text from Desi Girl: I don’t know what you want me to say.
Text from Town and Country: Sorry.

I snap the phone shut and resist the urge to throw it against the building I am passing. Then I do something atypical, I begin counting to 10 and calm down. I flip the phone back open and call Siobhan. “Hiiiiiiiiii!” she says in a sing song voice. “So, you’ll be happy. Town and Country cancelled our date,” I say flatly. She sighs VERY deeply. “Well, I won’t lie I am happy. For you. What happened?” she asks gently. “I dunno. I’m like the only woman in Manhattan who cannot find someone to sleep with her,” I mutter. “Well I don’t know about that. But I don’t think you should be alone right now. Where are you?” she asks. “In the 30s on Seventh Avenue. I will walk over,” I reply. “But I’m in the Village,” she says. “I think a 20 block walk will do me some Zen good,” I reply. “Sounds good, see you soon Pinky! I love you!” “I know, I love you!”I reply.

Thank DURGA for girlfriends.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


“This is a bad idea. You’re not in a good place and he's not right for you,” Siobhan cautions. I shift the phone and sigh. We’re “discussing” my upcoming Town and Country “date”. “Look, I’ve been where you are. Almost every woman has a ‘Town and Country’. And every woman would agree that getting rid of him was the best thing she ever did. So I think the sooner you disengage from him, the better. What do you really know about him anyway?" she asks. I respond with silence. “Okay, I know you don’t want to hear this…so let’s do this in reverse," she suggests. I'm two french fries short of  a Happy Meal to think I'm going to win an argument with a well educated, highly intelligent, corporate lawyer, but I'm persistently plucky and reply with, "Fine, let's.”

“So what’s going to happen on this date?” she asks. “What?” I ask. She's taken me by surprise, which I should have expected. “What is going to happen on this date,” she repeats. “Ahhh, date stuff,” I reply slowly, thinking about EVERY word I utter, knowing the wrong one will lead her to pounce and close her argument. “Uh-huh, what would that include?” Siobhan nudges. “Dinner,” I reply, believing one word answers will be my saving grace. “Then what?” she asks. “We’ll talk and maybe have an after dinner drink,” I reply. “Where will you have a drink?” she asks. “Depends where we have dinner,” I reply. I tuck the phone under my chin and open and email from Tapan, a V-E-R-Y nice man. Why doesn’t he have the same uncontrollable electric effect on me that Town and Country does? Is it possible that I don’t want to be happy? Is Desi Girl a self-saboteur?

Email from Tapan: Hey Desi Girl, we missed you at the puja. Swamiji was asking how you are. He’s still in town and I told him I have your computer. He’s hoping we can have dinner one night. Which segues into, when do you want to pick up the PC?
Email from Desi Girl: Hey Taps, SOOOO sorry we could not join. It was hectic with the family here, nice but hectic. Would love to have dinner, let me know what works and I’ll meet you there. I am sure you would like to me get that PC off your hands!
Email from Tapan: I don’t mind the PC I have plenty of space in the apartment. I thought you might be missing it! See you soon.

“You’re mad, right?” Siobhan asks, forcing me back into our live conversation. “No, I'm not. You're my friend, I know you care about me. But I can’t help how I feel about him. I try to stop, but I can’t,” I share. Now she sighs and finally says, “This is what I think will happen. He’ll take you do dinner, suggest drinks at his house and because you're vulnerable, you’ll end up sleeping with him. He’ll blow you off with his ‘I’m busy with work,’ routine and your life will spectacularly explode all around you. And it will take a LONG LONG LONG time for you to move on. This hunt and retreat is a pattern with him, and you deserve more. And I will sit on the phone with you until tomorrow morning talking you out of this date.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010


After three days my brother and his family leave for Minnesota. It’s weird now that I am wandering around this small apartment, it feels hugely empty and lonely.

When I think drowning my sorrows and isolation in Sauvignon Blanc is a bad idea, I default to my other avoidance mechanism, napping. (See: I have SOME self-control). I take my phone into the bedroom and turn on the air conditioner. I pull a thin sheet over my body and flip open my phone and read and re-read Town and Country’s text.

What the hell is wrong with me that I cannot shake him or his impact on my life? I mean this a man who has repeatedly told me that he is NOT looking for a relationship. I have responded telling him that I am. And yet this, “I want you, I can’t see you, I’m going to ignore you for two months and come back,” goes on. Because I allow it. Even now, I KNOW KNOW KNOW I should delete these texts and ignore him. But then again, Town and Country does not seem to be someone who can be ignored.

Text to Town and Country: Hey, what’s up?
Immediately he texts back: How are you?
Text to Town and Country: Fine. My brother was here this weekend. How are you?
Text from Town and Country: Family is nice; did you have a good time?

Sigh. It is hard to be annoyed with him when he's being so flippin’ nice.

Text to Town and Country: Yes, we did. How are you?
Text from Town and Country: Very stressed.

Again with his work? I should have just napped.
Text from Town and Country: I have been thinking about you.

Ah yes, now I remember how I get sucked back into this emotional vortex.
Text to Town and Country: Really? Because you blew me off in two months ago.

When several minutes of silence go by, I wonder if I have pissed him off once and for all. I am sure I mentioned that Town and Country does not like to be challenged. To which I wonder why he wants to converse with me because I am all about pushing back. Just ask my parents. And maybe this is good; he’s finally mad at me and will stop reaching out.

Just as I snap the phone shut, Town and Country texts back: I’m sorry for that. Are you free this weekend?

Because I never learn I write back: Sure.


My brother and his family arrive late on Thursday.

As we ready the following morning I wonder how full families of six and eight lived in these teeny tiny apartments back in the day. Cut to today, and you will find three adults and a baby tripping all over one another with the one shower, one bedroom and a small badly designed kitchen.

We leave the apartment and Desi Niece sees another child with a balloon and she becomes OBSESSED with getting one for herself. “Ball-loon, ball-loon, ball-loon,” she repeats like a baby mantra. How can you not love an 11-month old with a feisty, larger than life personality? We somehow manage to get her on the train sans the balloon. Luckily she finds the train fascinating and stares out the window at nothing since we’re below ground.

The train stops at Times Square and we get off. In the subway station she sees a balloon stand and now pitches a screaming fit and of course, since I am weak and the Auntie who spoils, I buy one for her. I am displeased when she lets go of it on 42nd Street just east of 8th Avenue, and $4 soars into the sky. She cries, and I scold, “Desi Niece, Bhua could have bought a coffee with that money you just let go of. NO more balloon.” Maybe I would be a good parent after all.

I made the mistake earlier that morning of mentioning a Baby Gap in Times Square and that is where we go and buy some new threads for Desi Niece. Since she is small, so are her clothes, and we actually buy a lot for $130.00. And since we’re Indian, we buy her things that are one size too big so she can wear them for more than five minutes. For the record, I would rather poke my eye out than WILLING go into Times Square, so clearly I love these people to venture into Tourist Land with them.

From there we mosey along to American Girl Store. Since Desi Niece is wearing a red, white and blue dress and looks like a moving American Flag, EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE in the store ooos and aahhs over her. We actually prop her up next to some dolls and take pictures of her. No joke, she could be mistaken for a oy.

“Let’s go to the Top of the Rock,” my bother suggests. “Great! I have never been,” I reply. “You live here and you have never been?” my brother questions. “When you live here Rock Center and Times Square are not places where natives go,” I explain. He rolls his eyes and says, “Well look at you Miss Fancy living in Blah, Blah Land.” We laugh at how snotty the comment sounded. “Can we get coffee at Starbucks first?” I ask. They are quite agreeable and my brother goes to get the drinks for us while my sister-in-law goes to bathroom with Desi Niece.

As I am sitting there my phone pings and I flip open the text messages. I don’t even BELIEVE this. It’s a note from Town and Country saying, “Hi. How are you? Do you want to get together?” How does he seem to know when I am finally over him? He made plans with me two months ago and then blew me off. It took him three weeks to say he was sorry and then six weeks elapsed, during which time I finally thought he was out of my system. And what does “do you want to get together mean?” Sex? Because I don’t think so. He ignores me and then thinks I can be bought for dinner? I read and re-read the text and begin to shake a little.

My brother returns with the drinks and looks at me sideways. “What’s wrong?” he asks and stares at the phone. I snap it shut, thankful to have family and love in town. “Nothing. Nothing is wrong. I’m fine,” I reply. Famous last words, since I have never been fine with it comes to Town and Country.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I’m a geek. I logged onto the website to track my brother’s flight. They had an on-time departure, which is amazing. Eighty-five percent of my MSP to LGA flights are delayed, delayed, delayed due to excessive air traffic into the New York area.

I switch screens to take a quick look at my email and see a note from Tapan.

Email from Tapan: Hey Desi Girl, Hoping you are well. It’s been some time since we met up, I’ve been traveling for work and busy. Vipin has finished working on your computer and it’s in my apartment. By the way, I just moved, did I mention that? This place has a patio you should check out. As an architect you’ll like the space. (Okay, first of all I am NOT NOT NOT an architect, and I definitely don’t play one in this blog. Yes, I have an undergraduate degree in design, but education alone does not make an architect. Government regulations and licensure, does. But I never cared enough about a client’s door knobs. So I had no desire to spend another two years getting my Masters in architecture. I liked the personal interaction with Clients, so the support, communications and marketing side of the business has always appealed to me more. In retrospect for the amount of money and time I invested in my education I should have become a pharmacist. Same amount of schooling, better pay.) Speaking of the apartment, Swamiji is coming from Minneapolis this weekend to perform a house warming puja (Hindu blessing) I’d love to invite you if you’re free.

Well this is a predicament. Tapan is REALLY nice and I REALLY need to get that computer back. And I’d like to see him. But I haven’t seen my brother and his family in nine months.

Email from Desi Girl: Hi and thanks for your note! I would love to attend the puja but my brother and his family are coming into town today. I’m tracking their flight as we speak!

Email from Tapan: That sounds great and feel free to bring them along. The puja starts on Sunday at 8 am.

Email from Desi Girl: (Okay, Desi Brother is a lot of things, but early riser is not one of them. He doesn’t like to get up for work. So if Desi Brother is on holiday I am hard pressed to think he will get up to attend a religious function.) That is very kind of you. Let me ask them once they get here. Can I get back to you? And if Sunday does not work, let’s meet up.

Email from Tapan. Sounds good and have fun with them! It is nice to see family.

Ahhh, Tapan from Minnesota is SUCH a nice guy.

Monday, December 13, 2010


"What kind of stuff does Desi Niece get into?” I ask and survey my apartment. Just yesterday I was thinking I have too much furniture. But today I am thinking thank goodness I have a queen sized bed, Aerobed and couch. Where else would three adults and a baby (Desi Niece is 11 months old) sleep for four three nights?

"The usual,” my brother replies. Okay, I don’t have kids; I am battling my inner demons if I want any, so how the heck would I know what “the usual” is? “Is she going to pull my books off the shelf and break my trinkets?” I ask. “Maybe, depends on her mood,” my brother replies. He is not joking. Desi Niece who I have not seen in nine months (during which time her parents have pierced her ears, which makes her look like the girl version of my brother), has about nine feet of personality stuffed into 18 pounds. Considering her short life, she is very willful and makes it clear when she is unhappy. I hope she is the kind of girl who grows up to be a self-advocate.

"Do I need to buy her any food?" I ask. "Well she doesn't have any teeth, so no," my brother replies. "She has teeth!" I argue. "Four teeth. She still drinks milk," he says somewhat bored, somewhat amusedm in a tone I miss. It's interesting actually, I am surprised by the small things I took for granted. Seeing Mom whenever I felt like it. My brother finishing my sentences and reading my mind. And if I can be honest, I am looking forward to spending time with “my people”. It’s tough to be single in New York. Well, scratch that. It is tough to be single in your 30s. Add New York and desi to it and you kinda want to hide under a rock. It will be nice to spend time with people who love me unconditionally, who don't require me to be "on".  

“She better not to put her fingers in the electric sockets, I don’t have those outlet plugs,” I warn. I will not be blamed for the accidental electrocution of Desi Niece. “Why? You did it and you’re fine,” my brother retorts. This is true. When I was about two years old my parents were buying a Ford and they gave me their keys to play with while they negotiated the car deal. Evidently I took a key and put it in the outlet and got quite the jolt. My brother argues I have never been the same. If only I could trace my own undoing back to that point in time!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I’m emailing Vipin (Post 241).  He has successfully de-Trojan Horsed the computer.

Email to Vipin: I owe you BIG time.
Email to Desi Girl: No problem. Happy to help. How do you plan to get the PC?
Email to Vipin: Can you get it to Tapan? And then I will arrange to get it from him? (I am still sort of seeing Tapan, I think). My brother and his family are coming next week, but after that I’d love to take you for kati rolls as a small thank you.
Email to Desi Girl: Kati rolls in the City?
Email to Vipin: Yes, and they are DAMN good.
Email to Desi Girl: Sounds good!
Email to Vipin: Will send details soon.

I log off the computer and survey the apartment. More often than not I wonder why I have a one bedroom apartment. I rarely spend any time in the bedroom as I sleep on the ridiculously comfortable couch. Now that I think about it, I spend a max of 30 minutes a day in the bedroom selecting my outfits. Which now has me regretting buying all this living room furniture. I have an oversized 80” couch, two stuffed arm chairs and an ottoman. If not for my clothes, shoes, handbags and books, I could be a minimalist.

The phone rings and I see Meera’s number. “’Allo dahling,” I say. “Rohit and I cannot believe that Dr. Froggy left two days ago and we HAVE to call for an update!” I laugh. These two are TOO much, in the good way of course. “It was fine,” I reply. Meera makes the sound of a buzzer and says, “Fine isn't glowing. More details, please.” “Saturday I wore your favorite outfit on me.." I pause to let her approve. "Then we went to the Met and out for dosas. I treated him to brunch on Sunday and then he left because I told him I had friends coming in from Minnesota and needed to meet them.” “Hhhmm,” Meera says, and continues. “We almost got busted. While Rohit, Should Not Have Kissed Him and I were waiting for the table we ran into Sham and Anand outside of Crispo.” Sham and Anand are Rohit’s friends. “And?” I ask.

“Sham saw you and said, ‘Hey Meera isn’t that your friend Desi Girl over there?’ and then Anand turned around and was going to say something and I told them I was crashing your date,” Meera explains. “And what? They think we’re nuts?” I ask and chuckle. “I told them not to blow my cover and they said I deserved getting caught,” she says. “They have NO sense of adventure!” I reply.

“Soooo…where did you leave it with Dr. Froggy?” Meera demands. “He asked if I wanted to meet him again,” I reply. “What?! And what did you say?” she asks. “Nothing yet. I said I’d have to check because I am going to India in a few weeks…I think he’s into me.” Meera groans, “OF COURSE he's INTO you! You blew him off..." "That's not fair. I have been pushing him to meet me and now that he's ready, I'm going to India and have a million things to do. I think playing dating game is gross," I argue. "Your reasoning doesn't matter. From his perspective, he wants what he thinks is unobtainable. Desi Girl. You needed to be doing this from the beginning!" Meera exclaims.

Herein lies the quintessential problem with Desi Girl. A lack of subtly. When she likes someone A LOT, she overcompensates to get him to notice her. So much so that she will flirt with his friend and ignore him to get his attention. (Sidebar: this tactic is not recommended). Yet when Desi Girl meets a man she is so-so about, she can play it cool. And these are the men who fall over themselves for Desi Girl’s attention. It is most unfortunate when it comes to the matters of the heart Desi Girl cannot strike the balance.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I'm seated at a table near the bar watching Dr. Froggy enter the restaurant. He’s in the navy blazer and on his phone talking to someone other than me. He sits down a few minutes later and says, "Sorry I’m late. I was talking to the builder on my house. Between him and the architect they are behind…what else is new?” Dr. Froggy mutters.

Sure, I know. Frank Lloyd Wright is the living legacy regarding what a pain in the ass architects can be. And contractors have subjected me to mocking and ridicule, asking if my hard hat is from Macy’s. So I know architecture and construction are dysfunctional. I also know Dad has always run his practice on the straight and narrow, with honor and integrity. So Dr. Froggy should not make such generalizations that upset the Architect's daughter.

“How long has the construction been going on?” I ask and sip water. “Since January,” Dr. Froggy replies. “How many square feet again?” I ask. “Over 5,000 finished and then there is an unfinished basement and attic. But it took forever to get the kitchen done and they made a mistake with the hot tub and the concrete pad was not engineered for the correct weight load. My mom keeps coming to oversee the construction,” he replies.“Well, that sucks for your Mom, but look, construction is an inexact science unfortunately. There are lots of unexpected variables. But have you made a lot of Owner requested changes? Because that is where they get you. If you sign off for A, B and C and then you ask for E and M, forget it. The price of your house just doubled,” I explain. “Really? I have had a few but the builder keeps telling me it will be okay,” Dr. Froggy says. “Well, maybe, but thankfully you're not at the year mark yet, so there is time,” I reply. "What happens after a year?" he asks. "Most clients have it built into their contract that liquidated damages kick in after a year. You have that right?"

Dr. Froggy looks puzzled and then says, “No. And they started construction LAST January, not this year, but LAST year.” I almost spit out my water. The Taj Mahal was on a faster construction schedule than this damn P. Diddy styled McMansion. “What? This has been going on for two years? You need to fire your architect,” I say. “I don’t have one,” he replies. “What?" I ask horrified. He is a Contractor's dreamboat. I know plenty of folks who build their houses without an architect and then suffer a woeful agony when they are price gouged and left with a house that is 80% complete. Desi Girl’s PSA: Always hire an architect. On an architectural project they operate like an attorney, someone to advocate for your project and pocketbook against a Contractor. “No, I just have a builder,” he replies. “Well, then you deserve to suffer. You are basically designing your house like a surgeon removing a gall bladder with a rusty oyster fork. I cannot have sympathy for you when you didn’t safe guard yourself."

Dr. Froggy laughs and leans into the table, “You’re feisty I like it…and I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed the weekend and am wondering if you’d like to visit me next?”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Two hours before I meet Dr. Froggy for our Rosa Mexicana lunch, I stare into the closet so devotedly you’d think Durga was in there doling wise counsel upon me.

As I wait for fashion wisdom I must agree with Meera. My outfit last night was indeed “sophisticated casual” and now I feel pressure to again be fabulous --- more for myself than Dr. Froggy. This is why I decide to wear Meera’s favorite outfit on me --- white vee-neck tee-shirt; white, mid-calf length Sunny Leigh skirt with red flowers and green stems along the bottom; a long green scarf wrapped around my neck twice (it doubles as a shawl if the evening gets cool), and red slides. I have planned nothing for Dr. Froggy, which means I have no idea what I will be doing over the next 12 hours. Let me at least don some sensible shoes.

Without delay or event I meet Dr. Froggy for lunch. He is again wearing his blazer and dress pants. We get seated and much to my delight, table side guacamole. Much to my dismay, another unfinished meal because Desi Girl was too full after finishing one taco and too many chips.

“Wanna see the Met?” he asks. “Sure,” I reply. Once inside the museum we go through my favorite galleries, looking at the Indian and Egyptian art. He expresses interest in seeing the armor and weapons, and I agree. Who am I to object? He bought the tickets.

“Any desire in going to Coney Island?” Dr. Froggy asks. “Sure,” I reply. You’d think from his planning efforts and ideas, it is he, not me who lives in NYC. We make small talk on the train and experience long moments of silence when the adjacent “kids” (I use this loosely because they look about 15) start talking loudly, jumping around and acting like alley cats. God, I hope I was NEVER like that growing up. And gross, when did I become “that old” that I think of these people as “those kids."

Once in Queens, we walk along the boardwalk. The afternoon is warm and a light breeze kicks up just a touch of salty air to sting my lips. We pass the rides and dozens of food stands selling taffy, cotton candy, hot dogs, pizza, and popcorn. “Want anything to eat?” he asks. I shake my head. What I want is a disco nap. Who knew eating, art and walking could be so exhausting. I however don’t object when we pass a lemonade stand. I need a sugary afternoon pick me up.

We return the City and Dr. Froggy says, “I am in the mood for dosas. How does that sound to you?” “Sounds great!” I reply. As a North Indian, I did not grow up dining on the delights of dosa, idli and sambar. And since I live in Washington Heights, it is not often that I get to frequent the dosa joints on Lexington in the 20s.

When we get seated I am OFFICIALLY tired an order a Diva Cola (Diet Coke) and drink about half of it in 6.7 seconds. Whoever invented the straw was a mother-freaking genius. Feeling re-energized I am more engaged in the date. Until the waiter comes.

I am aghast when Dr. Froggy orders a HUGELY HUGE deep fried appetizer platter AND a HUGELY HUGE dosa. His appetite would be less alarming if he was Michael Phelps and not an overweight cardiologist pushing 40. And not to be a Negative Nandini but I am a little concerned that this man has a completely sedentary life for two reasons. One is being overweight is unhealthy. And two, I am a really active person and worry I will run circles around him. My thought is cut short because the waiter returns with trays of food and I already know this is another meal I won’t be finishing.

“What time is your flight tomorrow?” I ask. Maybe talking will make me feel more alert. “Why?” he asks. “I have friends coming in for the US Open and I need to meet them for drinks at four. But I am hoping that we could have brunch at Marseilles in Hell’s Kitchen. Sound good?” He nods and says, “Sounds good.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I watch Meera and her entourage get up. They wave wildly, blow kisses and leave. I am so glad this place has no mirrors!

When the check comes, Dr. Froggy’s money is where his mouth is. Without skipping a beat, he grabs the check and pays for dinner. “Would you like to get a drink?” he asks as we step out into the cool evening. I wrap myself deeper into my silk blend wrap and nod my head. “While Chelsea is known for a vibrant gay culture and scene, there are lots of nice places along 8th Avenue, sound good?" I ask. Staying in this area also keeps me close to the A train!

We sit down at the bar. Despite not finishing my dinner, I don't feel super tipsy. I never believed that women don't eat on dates, and I love to eat, but for some reason, I have yet to finish all my food on a Manhattan desi date.

"So one of my favorite places is Rosa Mexicana. Every time I come to New York I eat there. Normally I go with my buddies. Any interest in having lunch there tomorrow?” Ugh. I find Rosa overpriced and the portions HUGE. But he did pay lots of money to come here, so who I am to deny him. Then again, I have never said no to chips and table side guacamole! “Sure, sounds good. Which location, UES or Lincoln Center?" I ask. "There's two?" he asks. "I'd prefer the Lincoln Center one." "Me, too!" I reply.

"While I love New York, I have no desire to live here," Dr. Froggy announces. Oh man, he just drove a dagger into my heart. While I can barely afford to live here I love it. And is this his way of saying, if this works out I have to move into his P. Diddy inspired McMansion? "Why is that? Love it but don't want to live it?" I ask. "It is too expensive. My taxes are high enough and for a $1 million I can build a 5,000 square foot house there or live in a two bedroom apartment here. I'd rather have the house," he explains. "Hhhmm, I understand that. Some people are suburban and others, like me are urban," I reply. He nods and we continue chatting for another hour. He tells me about his rotations and how the construction of his condo is going.

Eventually I say, "Oh it's late! And you must be exhausted." He glances at his watch and nods. He, again, pays and once outside we hug good-bye and he hails a taxi for me, “I’d prefer it if you took a cab,” Dr. Froggy says with concern in his voice. "It's kinda late." Oh this is sweet. And little does he know how late and how often I ride around on the subway. While I would prefer to protest and state the subway station is across the street, allowing me to spend $2 rather than $30 on the ride home, I agree to his wish.

"See you tomorrow," I say and duck into the cab.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I must really NOT want to go on this date because I’m late. Granted it isn’t completely my fault. I left home at 8:20 pm and generally 40 minutes is enough time to get to West 14th Street.

Without trying, I saunter down the street in these three inch sandals. I see Dr. Froggy standing at the edge of the sidewalk, tuck my purse tightly under my arm and walk over to his side. “Dr. Froggy?” I say. “Hello, Desi Girl,” he replies and we do the awkward first time hug. “How was your flight?” I ask.”Fine,” he replies. He’s about 5’-7”, with a large, square head that doesn’t seem quite in portion with his body. I am disappointed to learn that his idea of average is more in line with my idea of heavy, but he is dressed VERY nicely in trousers and a blue blazer. “Did you let them know you’re here?” I ask. “Nope, I waited for you,” Dr. Froggy replies. “Oh, well thank you. Let’s go in and let them know, shall we?” I suggest. “Sure we can have a drink at the bar and wait,” Dr. Froggy offers.

We walk towards the restaurant and Meera and her desi posse consisting of Rohit, Shouldn’t Have Kissed Him, and two other male friends are standing and chatting. I catch her eye and she smiles, trying to get a glimpse of my date. She is wearing one of my favorite dresses on her -- a brown, ombre traffic-stopping sheath dress. In that moment, I stop and think, “poor Dr. Froggy, he has no idea about what’s happening around him.” Meera and I are so juvenile that it amuses me. Only really, good, close friends would consider doing such a thing. And God bless Rohit for going along with the charade, though I suspect he’s as invested in my groom hunt as Meera, Mom, Bangalore cousin and me!

Dr. Froggy and I order red wine at the bar. I take my first sip and see the hostess lead Meera and her entourage to a table. Ten minutes later Dr. Froggy and I are escorted into the dining room and we walk behind Meera’s table. She unfortunately has her back to us and Rohit gives me a quick wink. The hostess seats Dr. Froggy so his back faces Meera’s table , but I see them perfectly. Because I can think of no reason for us to change seats I sit down and wonder how Meera intends to her execute her viewing and observation plan.

We look over the menu and make small talk. It takes everything I have to focus on Dr. Froggy because Meera’s table antics have me wanting to laugh. First, Meera keeps sitting and standing, like a desi jack in the box, more like, desi jill in the box. Then she and Shouldn’t Have Kissed Him do the wave several times. All the while Rohit is on his phone. This goes on for another 20 minutes and Meera gets up again and points towards the bar and motions me to follow. I watch her leave, finish listening to whatever Dr. Froggy was saying and then excuse myself for the loo. I grab my purse, walk by Meera’s table, wave at her men and duck into the bathroom.

“How is it going?” she demands as I enter. That 80’s song by Kylmaxx begins running in head, “I got a meeting in the ladies' room. I'll be back real soon. I got a meeting in the ladies' room.” “Fine, he is quite nice and the conversation is going better than I thought. I am sure I could focus better if you weren’t doing the wave. But your table seems more fun,” I say.

“First, you look damn hot. Second, he looks nicely put together. I am digging his navy blazer, very Boston of him. Rohit has been texting you all night, did you get his messages?” Meera shares. “I can’t really pick up my phone…I am on a date,” I explain. “Good point,” Meera says. “Are you glad he came?” she asks. “I don’t know yet,” I reply. “Fair enough,” Meera says. "Where are you taking Dr. Froggy after this?” Meera asks. “Well, if he’s not too tired, probably a bar. It’s Friday night in Manhattan and neither one of us are driving,” I reply. “Text me details!” she says. We hug and go back to our tables.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


“Have you heard from Dr. Froggy?” Meera asks. “Nope,” I reply and turn on the television. “What? Isn’t he supposed to come today?” Meera demands. She can’t see me, but I roll my eyes. This pre-meeting conversation with Dr. Froggy has gone on for so long that if he bailed, I’d probably throw a ticker tape parade. Being this unexcited to meet someone has to be a bad sign, right?

“Hello? Are you there?” Meera asks. “Yes, I think he’s coming. He hasn’t said differently…” I finally reply and wonder what I should do for the next few hours before my dinner date with Dr. Froggy. “Honey!” I hear Meera yell. “Desi Girl hasn’t HEARD from Dr. Froggy and they have dinner reservations at 9:00 pm...” At first the silence leads me to believe that Rohit is ignoring us. Then I hear Rohit yell, “What? WE HAVE dinner reservations at 9:00 pm, too! What is wrong with this guy?” (See Post 243 where Meera and I decide they should crash the date). Meera gets back on the phone and says, “Well if Dr. Froggy bails you can eat with Rohit, me and Shouldn’t Have Kissed Him.” “Sounds fine to me,” I reply. “I bribed Shouldn’t Have Kissed Him with lobster so he would join us,” Meera explains. “It’s cool with me. I don’t harbor hard feelings over that strange hook-up,” I reply.

“What are you going to wear?” Meera asks. Now this is something I have been debating for SEVERAL days. Two months ago when I wanted to impress the shit out of Dr. Froggy I would have worn my date outfit, black pants, black and white wrap top and heels. I would have been styling my hair all day and fasting for the past two weeks. As I got to know Dr. Froggy and his obsession with material possessions, impressing him became less important because I found him gauche. This is why I give Town and Country his due props for being down-to-earth despite being so successful. I would even venture a bet that Town and Country is wealthier than Dr. Froggy, but doesn’t act like it.

When I finally reply, I say, “my denim pencil skirt, black tee-shirt and turquoise wrap. Hair in a pony-tail.” “I love it, so sophisticated casual. It’s like you’re trying without trying,” Meera says. “Trust me, I am not trying,” I mutter. “What are you wearing for shoes?” Meera asks. “Whatever I feel like, probably not flats, most likely black, strappy heels that say ‘hello Mister’,” I reply. Just because I am not thrilled to meet Dr. Froggy, doesn’t mean my feet and manicure must suffer. “Great! I cannot wait to see you tonight!” Meera says and hangs-up.

I snap the phone shut --- little does Dr. Froggy know our date is about to be crashed by Harlem’s finest and their seafood seeking sidekick.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


“I think you should move,” my Bangalore cousin says. This is her response to,"I booked my ticket to India." . “What” I ask. “I think New York is the problem. None of those men seem interested in committing.” “Where do you suggest I move to?” I ask slightly bored. Does she have any idea how much work it is to move into or out of Manhattan? “California,” she replies without skipping a beat.

Is she mad, as in insane, I wonder, and ask, “I cannot afford to live in California. First of all, I spent $3,000 trucking my shit half way across America. I’m sure a coast-to-coast move will cost $6,000. I may lose my current security deposit if I vacate early and then I need first and last month’s rent and a security deposit for a Callie apartment. Do you think I have $12,000 sitting around?” “Forget your stuff. Just take two suitcases and go,” my cousin advises. My shoes alone need two suitcases. “And what? Start all over? I have friends here and I am building a life, albeit very slooooowly, but a life none the less.” “But you are miserable there,” my cousin says. “No, I will be miserable in California with no friends and no furniture. And what kind of man is going to marry a woman with a sad job and no couch?” “Then I think you should move to India. I can definitely find you a good job in Bangalore and there are plenty of Indian men for marriage.” “If I’m not willing to move to the West Coast of my own country, what makes you think I want to move half way around the world and land up in the middle of yours?” I ask my cousin. Silence.

I hang up with Bangalore Cousin and call my brother. “So I am booked for India,” I say. He is quiet for a moment, which is not unusual for him. He is the diplomatic one who EVERYONE on both sides of the family, and I mean EVERYONE, adores. Little do the unsuspecting rellies in Delhi realize that beneath that polite and calm demeanor lurks the quick wit of my slightly sarcastic brother who wisely prefers to keep his comments to himself. Rather than engage the socio-paths, he nods and takes another samosa, the number one way to win a Punju lady’s heart --- eat her food. I on the other hand tell people to bite me (this is when I care about them or their opinion of me) or I ignore them (this is when I don’t care about them or their opinion of me). There is nothing subtle about me.

“Why are you going to India?” he finally asks. “To meet with a pandit and fix my matrimonial stars,” I reply. “I see,” my brother says, sighs and speaks again. “If that is what you want to do, then great. And not to sound like Dad, but I don’t think these pandits have a clue. They say one thing and then the opposite. I understand there are no guarantees but this roller coaster of ‘you will get married, you won’t get married’ is really stressful on you, Mom, Bangalore cousin and Massi. And I don’t know --- I don’t care if you get married or not, as long as you’re happy. Are you happy?”

I don’t think a happy person spends a month’s rent on airfare to ask a stranger to predict to whom and when she shall marry. And I don't want to admit this out loud to anyone, even my brother who I KNOW has my back, but this is the action of a desperate person seeking resolution. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


"Ainsley, I need a favor," I say quickly into the phone. "Sure, of course what?" she asks. I can hear her fingers running over the keyboard as she works on invoices. "I need two train cases, one in a funky print for my niece and one in black patent for my cousin." Ainsley works in fashion and her company makes bags, totes and accessories in soft, durable fabrics. "Niece? I thought she wasn't even one yet," Ainsley asks. "Well yes, my brother's daughter will be one next month. But my cousin's kids are like my niece and nephew." "Got it. How old is your niece?" "15," I reply. "Let me see what we have for you," Ainsley says. "Thanks," I say and hang-up.

I grab my purse and head down to the UWS for my nail appointment. When I am done grooming, I dart over to the Sephora on Broadway. Sometimes I find the gift getting really exhausting, not due to the actual running around, but because I want to buy things that are meaningful and in my budget. Which is why I often default to perfumes and colognes. They don't weigh much. They don't take up much space in my bag and who doesn't like smelling nice?

In the women's section I pick up two lipsticks for my younger massi (massi is the Hindi word for maternal aunt) and then find a nice, sophisticated perfume for my elder massi. Mom is the middle sister. This is another thing I really like about Hindi, the language differentiates paternal from maternal relatives. My paternal aunts are called "bhua" ... which is what my brother's daughter calls me.

I then wander into the men's section and select two bottles of cologne. One for my mama, maternal uncle, he is the youngest of the four siblings on Mom's side. The other cologne is for my Bangalore cousin's husband. He loves colognes and I always bring him one. My mama is actually found of really nice pens, but that is completely out of my budget.

I stuff the Sephora bag into my purse and step outside. The weather is so nice that I decide to walk the 30 blocks into Times Square. My Bangalore cousin has an 18 year old son who I am very fond of. He's in college now, which I cannot believe. He was the most adorable baby. As he got older I began to see so many similarities in our personalities. He's a little hot-headed, and rebellious, and stubborn. I tried on several occasions to share my experiences to better him. I remember during my last trip to India, he was fighting with his parents and I turned to him and said, "Why are you doing this? You won't win against them. You should learn to control your temper and be a diplomat like your sister. Don't do the things I did." I like to believe he heard what I was saying.

Because I adore him so much, I am willing to brave and battle the tourists in Times Square and go the MTV store to buy him a cool surfer type tee-shirt that he would be willing to wear in public. Even though I am the elder, I really want him to think of me as his cool American Massi. I wonder if kids realize how much they are loved, even by the aboard residing aunts.