Monday, May 30, 2011


Before Dad got sick I used to call Mom a few times a day, sometimes to say hello, other times to hear her tell me everything is okay, that I am okay and destiny will figure itself out. Now that Dad has come home, it is really hard (understandably) to have a private conversation with Mom. Between cooking, cleaning and coordinating all the care givers, she has very little time for anything else, including herself.

In order for Mom and me to have a few minutes alone, I have to wait for her to run errands where she calls me from the parking lot of the grocery store, mall or bank on her mobile phone. “How’s Dad?” I ask. “A little cranky, but fine,” she replies. “How are you? You sound tired,” I ask. She pauses. Because I have the tendency to over-react when anyone gets sick or has to have surgery, my parents and brother prefer to withhold the truth from me (I am sure they think they are saving me from panicking). Now that I live 1000 miles away, I am pretty sure this strongly motivates them to keep things from me. But every now and then I can get Desi Brother to crack and tell me what is really going on.

“So Dad wants me to come home? In case there is a fire in the house…” I ask calmly. “Yes that is what he is saying. But I don’t want that,” she replies. Hhhmm. Dad is a pretty typical Indian man who left India in 1967, he still lives in that “head-of-the-house” era, even though Mom runs our lives, but we don’t argue with him, because we don’t win. “I see,” I reply skeptically.

“I said no. I don’t want you coming home, do you understand? No arguing with me,” Mom says in her authoritative, I’m-in-no-mood-to-be-trifled-with-I-gave-birth-to-you-and-if-you-challenge-me-I-will-slap-the-sin-out-of-you-I-don’t-care-if-you-are-taller. Make no mistake, normally is VERY hard to silence me, but after all these years, I conform to this Desi Mom tone. “Okay, but Dad thinks I’m booking a ticket right now,” I reply, still calm. “You have done enough for me, for him. I want you to stay there – in New York – and do what you need to do. End of story. He can hire a night nurse,” Mom says, pauses and continues. “How much did we do for our parents after we came to America? Nothing. We were not there when all four of your grandparents died. You are not here to fix everything; you have your own life to live. So live it.”

Sunday, May 29, 2011


“Dad wants you to come home,” Desi Brother says flatly into the phone. “What? Again? I was JUST there,” I snarl. “Hey I am just warning you. Dad is going to have Mom call you,” he says. Immediately I feel concerned. “Why can’t Dad call? Is the phone to heavy for him to lift?” I ask. I understand that therapy is progressing, albeit slowly, and that this is a tough time for Dad. I feel sad that he does not yet have the strength to open a can of soda.

“No – Dad can’t call you because he doesn’t know your number,” my brother replies. Ugh, now I am annoyed. I have lived in New York for two years. Sometimes I cannot believe this man migrated from Delhi all those years ago, because sometimes he seems more helpless than my niece who is one year old. I understand he is not well, but come on, when he was healthy how hard was it for him to learn my phone number? Does my mother have to do everything? I think his dependence on Mom is dangerous. And, and, and – I bet Dad knows my brother’s number.

“The health care workers came to the house to do an inspection. They made some stupid comment that in case of fire Dad can’t get out,” my brother mutters. “They have lived in that house for almost 40 years and nothing has happened. Now Dad needs someone other than his 90 pound wife to stay with him. And I have a wife and kid - I can't do it,” my brother says. Dad feels fear, which I understand. Some unknown infection attacked his body and hijacked his life. But I am unsure how my being there will help. There is no way I could carry a 200 pound man out of a burning house. And hey - what if I had a husband and kid? And I don’t have $500 lying around to fly back. That last ticket just cost me $800 with all the change fees.

And I don’t mean to be selfish – but when does my life get to be about me? I moved to New York to meet someone and get married and build a life. Is that so wrong? To want a partner and soul mate? Then again, maybe I should just go back and help take care of Dad. I always seem trip along the way and allow external factors run my life.

Take dating for instance. I am sure I cannot meet a nice man for two reasons. One, I seem to attract and be drawn to the demented and deranged desi men. And two, Town and Country. Even when he is busy, wrapped up in his life, ignoring me, or dating someone else – he lives on the edge of my mind.

So how can I meet a nice man, when Town and Country is a lingering constant? And Town and Country is not a bad man – it is not his fault that he is empowered in my life. It is mine. My annoyance with Dad is not his fault. It is mine, for wanting to be an obedient daughter and take care of him, yet wanting to be an independent woman and live my life. Damn it Durga! Why can’t you knock the Sita out of me?

Friday, May 27, 2011


Uff-da. My new dress and I get home from what has to be tied with Desi Girl’s worst date ever. Between Dr. Froggy and Chadwick – ugh – I don’t know who the more disillusioned 40-year old man is: a hairy, overweight, cardiologist with a sports car thinking he is a mo-fo king living in a replica of P. Diddy's house or a banker (with the title of vice president) who has his father ironing his shorts and his mother cooking his food. The two of them (Dr. Froggy and Chadwick) make dating a flasher seem normal.

I put my dress in the closet and decide to have Chinese for dinner. I call down to the family owned restaurant on the corner. The son who must be about eight picks up. “Hey, how are you?” I ask him. “Good, thanks, what would you like?” he asks. “Chicken breast and fried rice with…” I begin. “The hot chili sauce on the side. See you in 10 minutes,” he says and hangs up. This is what I don’t understand. Either from my number or the sound of my voice, an eight year old knows what I order. Knows that I am a creature of habit. So why is it so hard to find one man who gets me?

I return from my food run and find two missed voicemails. A part of me wants to punch myself rather than speak to anyone right now. And I could wait an hour before listening to the messages. The callers don’t know if I am working out or on a train. But I decide to listen.

Message One: “Hey Desi Girl – this is Possible-Mate-from-Chicago. I was wondering what your upcoming weekends are like. I was looking into flights to New York and wanted to see what works for you and where I should stay. Call me back when you can, thanks!”

Message Two: “Desi Girl – hi – how are you? Say wanted to let you know that I coming to New York for work this week. Wanted to know if you were around? Oh this is You-May-Have-Contacted-Me from Philadelphia. I hope you remember me. Looking forward to meeting you.”

Ooooo! Possibilities! This calls for celebration and I crack open a Diet Coke. This reminds me – I better get online and cancel my interest in Chadwick. And I will – after I finish dinner.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I am able to sublimate my annoyance (and utter disbelief) for Chadwick and his 1950s mentality by drowning out the sound of his annoying nasal voice by the loud crunching of chips and guacamole. Who ever thought to mash avocados and spices with some lime is a mo-fo genius! And the thought of fish tacos and more Diet Coke will surely make the next hour palatable.

“So tell me about your parents,” Chadwick says. “Uh, what?” I ask. He wants to engage me in conversation? I thought he wanted to sit there and act like some modern day maharaja deigning himself to lunch with me. “My father is a Taurus, my mother is a Scorpio. They have been in Minnesota over 30 years. Had a love marriage. And are pretty cool. Oh - both sides of my family hail from West Punjab, the part of India that now belongs to Pakistan,” I say. “I know that West Punjab is in Pakistan. I am surprised you do, being American and all,” Chadwick says. Really? He is THAT kind of Indian, the type that hates American desis so much, that he slogged to get of India, to come to America to make a shitload of money and become a desi supremacist? Then why, then why, then why – would he even WANT to demean himself by considering a date with an American Desi Girl?

“Well – don’t underestimate American desis. We got to grew up deep fried in curry with unibrows, stinking like gingered-onions in American public school and make straight As. And in ugly clothes. If you can survive American high school, you can handle anything,” I reply with an edge forming in my tone. “Oh high school is so hard here?” he sneers. “High school in America is NOT like India. In India the popular kids are the smart ones making good marks. In America popularity is admiration, not merit based. And yes, when you are brown, furry and stinky in places like Fargo, Memphis and Minneapolis – kids tease you,” I reply.

“You get along with your parents?” Chadwick asks. “Yes,” I reply and refrain from reminding him that it is he, not me, who has turned their parents into indentured servants. “Hhhmm,” he says. “What now?” I ask. “I really believe you like your parents. You act like someone who cares very deeply for their elders,” he says. I am stunned. He sounds like he is saying nice things, about me, and to my face. “Really? How have you come to that determination?” I ask, wondering what I said that did not offend him. “I can tell,” he says.

We part ways and I begin walking west. Something about meeting him kinda makes me feel bad about myself, not shameful, but I feel like he tried to belittle me. On a date? Who does this? Maybe he is insecure, annoyed that I like myself and decided to try and knock me down a peg or two. At Fifth Avenue I stumble into Banana Republic. Ah yes, this is what I need - a new dress to rinse away memories of this bad desi date.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Ainsley and Padre leave me at Dos Caminos for my date with Chadwick. I walk inside and ask for a table for two. The hostess takes me down the stairs and settles me into a booth to the right. I pick up the menu and review it. Why, I am not sure. I always order the same thing – fish tacos.

Seven minutes later Chadwick arrives. “Hello Desi Girl,” he says and sits down. “How have you spent your day so far?” “A friend and I went to look at an apartment in Long Island City,” I reply. “Queens?” he asks. I nod. “That is where I stay,” he replies. I hope he does not HE is the impetus for the apartment hunt.  “What is so special about the building?” he says. “It is brand new construction – a nice high rise with Manhattan views,” I reply and sip my water.

We place our lunch orders and he drums his fingers along the table for a minute and then says, “What did your friend think?” he says. “She thought it was nice, but we’re not sure that we want to move there,” I reply. “Oh you would live together?” he asks. “Yep,” I reply. “How have you met her?”  “We volunteer together,” I reply. He is not gunning questions at me, but I do feel a little interrogated. In addition, my jury is out on him. I cannot decide if I like him.

“Have you lived with anyone before?” he asks. “In college I had a roommate for sophomore and senior year. And of course I lived with my parents before going to college,” I reply. “Why do you say ‘of course you lived with your parents’?” “Where else would I live before 18?” I ask. “Boarding school and hostel like my brother and I did,” he replies. “Oh, okay,” I reply. “So what else do you do in addition to volunteer?” he asks. “I work out five times a week and I write – I want to be a writer, so I take classes,” I reply.

“And you work outside the home,” he adds. “Yes, that too,” I reply. “I am rather curious how you think you will take care of a family and do all your ‘activities’,” he asks. “You make things work,” I reply. He shakes his head. “I think you are fooling yourself. You cannot work, and write and volunteer and raise a family,” he says. I am raising the family? What is he going to be doing?

Chadwick leans forward nods a little and says. “My parents live with me. My brother is a doctor and has a young family. They stay in rural Tennessee and my parents prefer New York,” Chadwick says. Okay, why is he telling me this? So I reply, “That is very nice.” He waves his hand, indicating he is not done speaking. “I work six days a week, so I need their help around the apartment and getting my clothes washed and dry cleaned. And my food has to be cooked. She is an excellent cook,” he shares.

I would never allow or ask my parents to help me around my apartment. As it is, when my mother comes to New York I have to fight with her to relax in front of the television.  “I am bored. I need something to do,” she, the Energizer Bunny, says, and insists that I allow her to cook something for dinner. “You make your parents do your chores?” I finally ask.

He looks a little off-put. “I pay the rent. They live with me. I take care of all their expenses,” he says. OMG. He does not want a wife, he wants a servant. This is NOT going to work.