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.