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.