Friday, April 29, 2011


Around 10 pm my phone starts ringing and buzzing like it's having an anxiety attack. Tinku’s father has called so many times, from so many different numbers, that I finally blocked him. Because I am curious, I decide to read a few of the emails. Most of them are flat and bland. Until I come upon an email from mumbaiparag55: Madam, I read your recent ad. I m gujarati 56 y. if u have no problem in age diff.. i have interest in you. Im hungry of love, if you belives in love, there is no problem in love. When r u coming india ?. if you are in mumbai, we can make a meeting in this regarding, and we can know each other. Thanking You, I hope that you will give positive answer.

Ugh. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. So I forward his email onto my urban family and Bangalore Cousin. Ten minutes later my cousin calls. “Who is this man?” Bangalore Cousin demands. “My potential husband! How do they have my email address and phone number?” I snap. “Uncle must have posted it in the ad.” I don’t EVEN believe this. I can only presume that my ad reads like this:  (1) 36 year old Khatri girl (2) American born (3) resides in New York (4) educated in communications.
“Have you lost your mind?” I demand, loudly, in full Punjabi angst. “I am trying to help!” Bangalore Cousin argues. “Most people set up blind dates. What do you do? You post some bullet points and my AGE, my NAME, my PHONE NUMBER and my EMAIL in the Times of India? I don’t even believe this!” My email address is my first name, last name at
In that 10% of me that is currently rational, I know they are well-intended – but HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, they posted my contact details in a publication whose circulation is at least 16 million in a country of one billion people. I mean … REALLY?! Fine, forget that I find this somewhat mortifying, but what about my safety?! I already feel like a loser most of the time. We, desis, invented outlandish weddings and arranged marriage that a billion people partake in. Yet somehow I seem to repel desi men. I cannot get one to date me, much less marry me. What kind of INSANITY is this? Deep sigh. OMG. What the F***.

“You need to calm down!” Bangalore Cousin says. “You don’t think I have other things to spend my money on? And frankly you’re difficult and get mad over the slightest thing. No one wants to help you,” Bangalore Cousin states matter-of-factly. Here is where time freezes. Fine, I am difficult --- the desi Bridget Jones meets Sally Albright from When Harry Met Sally. But I really think I could find 10 people who agree that I am entitled to be outraged over the fact that she has posted an ad with all my personal information. I guess I should be thankful she does not know my social security number.

“I just wish you had run the ad by me or at the very least posted an alias email address,” I say somewhat calmly. “Now please, just take the ad down,” I ask.  “Uncle and I paid A LOT of money for that ad,” Bangalore Cousin counters. Okay, fine. Except I didn’t ask them to butt into my life and fix what clearly is broken. “Please, I am begging you take it down.” I plead. “These people call at 2 am, you want me to marry someone whose mother cannot convert time?” I ask. “But it is a big ad,” she replies. Lordy…really? I have not slept in THREE days. So not in the mood for suitors from the homeland and their parents. “Please, just take it down. I need for this to stop being my fault,” I ask softly. “Fine,” she mutters in defeat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Morning turns into early afternoon and my phone finally stops ringing. I can only deduce that night has fallen upon India and even industrious desi parents seeking a bride for their sons also must rest.

In my communications-from-Delhi-respite, I become curious about these callers. I don’t know what they know about me. I can only deduce that it is not much, and I am pretty sure they have no idea what I look like. What if I was fat, ugly, too short, too tall, deformed? Which has me wondering why they would they seek an Indo-American woman who is closer to 40 than 20 for their son? Wouldn’t a younger bride be more appealing (and suitable) than an independent woman who has been living alone for a decade?

I am sure the fact that I am American is somewhat appealing. But India has come a long, long, long way. The lives that my relatives lead today, versus in the 1980s, are polar opposite. My nephews and nieces have nicer clothes, telephones and gadgets than I do. And I am the one living in NYC! I often wonder why well-to-do desis would even consider leaving India. All the top designers and western malls have found India. And in America there are no servants, drivers or maids, unless you are FILTHY rich. Not even Town and Country has maids, drivers and servants. He does have a cleaning lady. Which is the norm in NYC. I cannot imagine Town and Country and Mr. Clean taking a toilet brush to town.

I sit down on the couch and scroll through the voicemails and decide to listen to one. “Allo. Vee are industrialists having business in Merry-land and Cal-e-for-nee-ah. Our son Tinku is 5’-6” flat foot, 5’-7” in shoes. Call back immediately so vee can begin discussion,” an uncle’s voice BOOMs in my ear.

In my heels and if I fluff up my hair, Tinku and I are the same height. Ugh. I SOOO cannot deal with this today. So I turn off my phone – again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The next morning I wake up. Something feels off but I cannot determine what. So I brush my teeth, turn on the computer and brew coffee. Normally I don’t eat breakfast. I know, I am naughty for skipping the most important meal of the day. But today I feel the need for a hearty oatmeal.

I pad back into the bedroom, bowl of oats in one hand, spoon in the other. Normally I hear my phone ding, announcing text messages or emails. But it has been remarkably silent since I have been up, which is odd, but a nice change of pace. I stop to wonder if the battery needs charging. Which begins a small investigation around my 130 square foot bedroom. Well this odd, too. I cannot seem to find the phone. So I decide to call my mobile phone from my landline. I go IMMEDIATELY into my voicemail. This is no good. Then I remember turning it off and root around the room, crawling around on my hands and knees, combing each and every inch of the room.

Finally (thanks to great Ganesh), I find my phone. I turn it on and wait for the settings to load. I continue shoveling oatmeal into my mouth and read the online news. Then my reading is RUDELY interrupted by the phone’s incessant, non-stop dinging, alerting me to emails and voicemails. It is rattling around on the desk so violently that I think it might burst. Once the phone stops dinging I reach over and see 43 missed calls. What the…?

Slowly I remember some woman telling me she was responding to my ad. What ad is this? I scroll through the missed calls because that is MUCH easier than contemplating listening to the voicemails. All the calls are from Indian mobile numbers, none of which belong to my rellies in Delhi. Whatever. It is WAY too early to play Sherlock Holmes and I assume that someone mis-dialed or something.

I finish my oatmeal and online news review and log into my email. Holy MOTHER of God. I have over 20 emails from accounts, a very popular email provider for desis in India. As I scroll through emails whose subject line reads: “Your ad in the Times of India” I now understand what has happened.

Bangalore Cousin’s matrimonial post for Desi Girl is live in the capital city of the largest democracy (one billion strong) on Earth. OMFG…

Monday, April 25, 2011


I hear noise. Ringing. I think something is ringing. I pop open my eyes and blink a few times. The ringing continues. For a change it is not my head in a drunken fog. Ugh, the phone. I sit up and look around the dark. I seem to have chosen to sleep in my bed instead of on the couch. And I managed to turn off all the lights.

It is rare that I sleep soundly. So the abrupt awakening is jarring enough. I squint to read the time. When I see it is 2:41 a.m., panic rivets through me. Growing up 11.5 hours behind Delhi, late, late night calls were reserved for the announcement of a relative’s death. That kind of dread immediately leads my thoughts down the road of, “OMG I hope nothing has happened to my parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, Massi, Bangalore Cousin, etc.”

I untangle myself from the covers and stumble across the bedroom. I find the phone and mumble, “Hello?” “Allo?” a woman’s voice --- that sounds familiar in some way, yet unknown in another --- asks. “Yes?” I ask a little cranky, a little tired. “I am calling from Rajasthan,” she says. Well good for her. “And…” I reply to Ms. Rajasthan. “I am responding to you advertisement,” she says. “My what?” I ask, wondering if I am dreaming. And if  I am not dreaming, then what the hoo-hah is going on here? “Advertisement…” she repeats.

Immediately I hang-up. I have placed no such ad and I will not entertain such calls at 3:00 am. Where do I have time to sell stuff on craigslist? Surely she has the WRONG phone number. I lay back in bed. The phone rings. I let it go to voicemail. It rings again. So I let it go to voicemail again. 

When it rings AGAIN. I bolt up and will on Ganesh, oh wise and wondrous remover of obstacles, rid this crank caller woman from my life. On the fifth call I yank back the blankets and huff and puff across the bedroom in the manner of an aging sorority girl. I glare at the phone, like it is Samsung’s fault that the ringing persists. Then I do something I NEVER do. I turn the damn thing off and hope that no one needs me until morning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Sometimes life sets my speed to automatic pilot. Twelve hours ago I was in Minnesota. I went from my parents’ house, to the hospital, to the airport (MSP) and then to the airport (LGA). Normally I am all about saving money and self-flogging so I ride the M60 to the A train stop on 125th Street. Except, of course, my flight was delayed (due to air traffic control) into the NYC area. So I lacked the energy to navigate public transport and hailed a decadent $32 cab ride.

Now that I am totally and completely alone, I don’t feel alone. I feel exhausted, relieved and guilty. I spend a few minutes looking at my suitcase, thinking I should unpack. I walk over and squat onto my haunches and unzip. Ugh, the sight of my own clothes is unbelievably draining and every bit of energy I have leaves my body. It takes two steps but I throw myself onto the couch. I don’t even have the bandwidth to turn on the television.

So I lay there and watch time pass on the cable box’s digital clock. I really should order something for dinner and pick it up. I know, I live in the delivery capital of the nation, but I rarely carry cash so I would be unable to tip the delivery man. And most of the places I order from are literally around the corner. So I think it is fat and lazy of me to ask someone to make me dinner and then walk 100 paces to bring it to me.

More time passes. I don’t flinch, move or think until my mobile phone, resting in reach, rings. From where I am laying on the couch I can see the familiar 10-digit Indian mobile phone number flash on my caller id. I sigh deeply, force myself to sit up and answer. “Hello?” I say. “Hahn, Desi Girl, why are you sounding so tired?” Bangalore Cousin asks. “Probably because I am, I feel totally brain dead,” I say. “When are you returning to New York?” she asks. “I just got back,” I reply. “Have you heard from Dr. Froggy?” she asks. I snort and say, “No.” “And what has happened to Town and Country?” she asks. “Beats me,” I reply.

She is quiet in that familiar, calm before the storm way. “Mama and I want to post a matrimonial advertisement in the newspaper for you,” she says. Mama, in Hindi, means maternal uncle. “In Delhi?” I ask. “Yes,” she replies. Normally I would tell her that I am seeing someone, except I don’t know that two dates make seeing someone. And given my track record I am pretty sure she’d get on a flight just to come here and slap sense into me if I said I was only seeing one person. For a change, I agree with her about putting more than one egg in my basket.

“Sounds fine,” I reply. She pauses and says in a surprised tone, “Great.” I think she expected a fight from me. Maybe I would have fought her had she called yesterday or tomorrow, but today, I have no fight. “I’ll put the profile together. Is your email the same?” she asks. “Yes, it’s the same,” I reply without thinking or asking.