Airplanes fly over ahead and land along the runway to the right. Mom and I speed along the highway to the airport in Dad’s Buick. We may be some of the only Indians who drive American cars. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but Japanese (drive for fuel efficiency) and German imports (driven for status) are quite popular with desis.
I keep checking my rear-view mirror to make sure my sister-in-law and niece are still behind us in their car. Buicks have incredibly SMOOTH rides despite being a living room on wheels. You can accelerate to an illegal speed without realizing it.
It does feel weird to drive, and it feels more weird to move around in something so HUGE. Damn man, outside of Manhattan everything is American Super-Size. Even my parents’ house, something I grew up in, now seems enormous. And things like dishwashers seem like luxuries.
I think TV portrays Manhattan as a larger than life, dazzling, glamorous City. Which it is. If you are rich. And I don’t mean live on Lake Minnetonka with a boat rich. I don’t mean live in a suburban St. Paul McMansion rich and drive a Mercedes rich. I mean stinky, nasty, filthy, phat-ass New York rich - Park Avenue apartment in the City, two garage parked cars, house in the Hamptons, boat in the bay, condo in Aspen, private boarding school educations where kids are kenneled for 12 years rich.
It’s a type of wealth I will never understand. In the long run I am sure my life is “richer” and has more meaning this way. I mean Town and Country is rich. So is my one my cousin’s. But both of them work all the time, druggies whose addiction is to mint money at the expense of everything else in their lives. Money is great, God knows I need it too, but at some point a life of quality has to mean something.
I pull the car to the curb. Almost immediately Desi Brother comes out of the airport pulling two bags. I get out of the car to say hello but he says, “Pop the trunk. I have Dad’s bag.” I do what he asks. Mom rolls down the window so say hello as well. He stops for a second and says, “Hey Mom, Dad is behind me. I’ll see you later. Don’t call I’m gonna crash.” The throws the bag into the trunk, gives me a hug and moves on to see his family. He's a blur that is gone in 10 seconds.
Normally I am the one, not Desi Brother, moving at the speed of light. When I finally process what he says. I turn back to say something but my brother is already in the driver’s seat of their car and merging back into traffic. I am sure he is tired, but I have never seen him act so impatiently it is almost unsettling.
I turn back to my left and Dad is moving towards us SUPER DUPER SLOOOOOLY. He’s wearing a black and white marbled wool jacket and a top hat. He almost looks like an aging Bollywood star. “Hey Dad!” I say and give him a hug. I walk back to the driver’s side, turn and study him.There is something labored about his pace. “Are you okay?” I ask. “Yes,” Dad says when he gets into the car. “Just tired. And I want to go home. Jet-lag.” "Hhhmm," I say and let it go.