Sudhir, Sudha, Amarjit, Malini, Dr. Froggy and I have dinner, and more wine. I continue to find Sudha and Malini delightful. They have a third friend, Anjali married to Ketan, who is currently in India visiting her parents – and the three of them have a girls night once a month.
Sudha and Malini are so easy to talk to and be with, and I don’t know if it is because we’re all Punjabi or Indian or what, but they are so welcoming that, in time, I think they would “get me” in the way Meera, Siobhan and Ainsley do. And while no part of me wants to leave the Isle of Manhattan, the other part of me knows that in order for this to work with Dr. Froggy, I will have to make that compromise. So knowing there are girlfriends built into the equation is very important to me – because I would be leaving some amazing chums behind.
The next day Dr. Froggy and I return to his house so we can have breakfast with his parents, allowing me the opportunity to meet his father, before my flight. We pull up to the massive McMansion --- it and the wide open spaces have started to feel familiar to me. We enter the kitchen and the delicious smell of Auntie’s South Indian feast is overpowering. The sight of upma, dosas, vegetables spiced in mustard seeds and a huge bowl of cut fruit, melons, pears and apples are mouth watering.
We begin eating and Dr. Froggy tells his parents about the resort and the medical conference. Uncle is slim, balding and about four years older than Dad. In his sweater with suede elbow patches Uncle reminds me of the desi Mister Rogers. As I listen to Uncle talk and chuckle in a sweet Yoda-like manner, I find him very compassionate. I am trying not to fixate on this, but like Uncle, Amarjit and Sudha seem emotionally aware. And they are doctors too.
We finish eating and have some tea, and then Dr. Froggy loads my stuff into the car. Uncle gives me a warm handshake and Auntie gives me a long hug. This time we take the BMW and Dr. Froggy begins to back the car out of the garage. I look over my shoulder and say, “Uhm, I think your Dad’s Toyota is kinda close.” He slams on the brakes and looks to his left. “Shit that would have been bad,” he mutters and avoids smashing into his father’s car.
On the way to the airport Dr. Froggy takes me on a driving tour of the Indian temples, first the North Indian Temple, then the South Indian Temple and then the Gurdwara where the Sikhs have their services. We get caught in a rain-snow mix and this slows down our arrival to the airport. He stops the car at the curb and we say good-bye fast --- a quick hug and a peck on the cheek because now I have less than 30 minutes to get a boarding pass, clear security and get on my plane. Did I mention my three-inch heels? Hai meri ma! “Text me when you're on the plane, okay?” Dr. Froggy says. “Sure,” I say. I am ready darting into the terminal.
I get to the US Airways counter and the agent says, “Sorry you cannot get on that flight, you have to wait for the next one at 4 pm.” What the? “Why not?” I ask calmly. I guess the worst thing is I am stuck in this town for more two hours and need to buy a latte to pass the time. “There isn’t enough time to get your bags on the flight,” he explains. “I have a carry-on,” I share. “Oh well sure, then here is your boarding pass. It’s tight but you can make it.” I scurry to the security line and wait and wait and wait. After 15 minutes I get into the gated area, rush for the tram, haul ass up the escalators and RUN, RUN, RUN, like a mad woman to the last gate in the concourse. I hand my boarding pass to the agent and she smiles, “Thank you very much, have a pleasant flight.” Now that I am ACTUALLY making the flight, I will!
I drop my purse and book onto my aisle seat and stow my bag in the overhead bin. My neighbor looks displeased to see me. Maybe because I look like a red, flushed, sweating mess. Maybe because he wanted two seats to himself. Rest assured, it wasn't my preference to sprint through the airport and sit next to a sour-faced cranky man for the next 90 minutes. So he can just bite me.
A few seconds later they shut the plane door. And I sigh in relief of making it. I want to go home, for however long this is my home – Big Apple, here I come!