Sunday, July 31, 2011


I have been on a diet since I was a plump 12-year old. Some of it may be genes (my father’s family has some hefty heifers) some of it was because I was studious and sedentary, rather than athletic and sporty. And since 12, my weight has been a battle that has had me on a variety of diets (Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, diet pills calorie-counting) and workout plans (personal trainer, step aerobics, weights, running, spinning).  I am sure, when I was uber-obsessed with my weight in my 20s if I had been able to make myself vomit on demand I would have been anorexic too.

In time (sometimes I am a slower learner) I got a little healthier about my weight. I learned dieting to be a simple equation, when calories in and calories out balance, you maintain your weight. When your calories in are more than your calories out, you pork out. And when your calories in are less than your calories out, you lose weight. 

And as a results oriented person, I have the best results in knocking off weight when I have a fully engaged plan in place. Also quitting drinking is VERY effective. But that is always my last resort.

The first step is to admit that I have a short attention span when bored. So treadmills are not my thing. And running … so not on my to-do list … unless my house is on fire. Then I am running like a shark-faced clown is chasing me through a deserted grocery store with tin shears in the middle of an East Coast hurricane named Delilah. Weights are okay – but I don’t think my form is correct. I can do the elliptical – but after about 25 minutes my feet get numb.

Then there is spinning – which I love – I don’t know why running in place on a treadmill has no appeal to me, but biking in place gives me an endorphin rush. So I am VERY excited to get back into a spinning routine. I am so excited that I am willing to get up at the crack of dawn to take a 6.30 am spin class.

While I am a little tired (I am not a morning person) I look forward to 7.15 am – when I will surely be on a high from my indoor spin ride! This is the smallest gesture I can do for myself, which grants a result that will last me all day. Sometimes the simple gifts you give yourself have the most meaning.


Back in my New York life I am riding the bus (love the bus). Based on my f-bomb drive through suburban St. Paul – I think everyone would agree that the world is best served if I am driven, not driving.

I am sipping a Diet Coke as the bus slowly rolls uptown along Third Avenue. I am meeting Haynes Thomas and Tate to see a movie (something I so rarely do, especially in a movie theatre). It is not that I am opposed to seeing movies. It is just that (a) the theatre in my neighborhood is not that nice or new and (b) if I want to see a movie with a friend I have to come downtown. I can’t get anyone who lives south of me to visit me more than once. Except Meera, she has come to visit me twice. Also I am not someone who wakes up on a Saturday afternoon and thinks “let’s see a movie”. I am either going to the gym to take a spin class or running the requisite weekend errands (Target, groceries, dry cleaning, etc.).

At some point I zone out, lulled by the motion of the bus. When my phone alerts me to a text message it abruptly shakes me out of my reverie. Thinking it MUST be Tate or Haynes Thomas asking about my ETA, I flip open the phone to find this:

Text from 718-xxx-xxxx: Hey how are you? We should get together.

Hhhmm. Who the eff is this, I wonder. Of course I presume it to be the wrong number, and I out of courtesy write back: Hey, I think you have the wrong number. I don’t know you.

718-xxx-xxxx writes: No, you know me, it’s Flyboy.

Ugh. Didn’t I leave him a message a few weeks ago telling him thank you, but no thank you, so I write back: Oh. Didn’t recognize the number.
Flyboy writes: Why not? Didn’t you put me in your phone?
Me: No.
Flyboy: Oh. Well never mind – I was wondering when you wanted to get together.

Really? Hhhmm. How to address this? I write: I don’t know if this is such a good idea.

Flyboy writes: Why? Because I called and texted to make sure you weren’t waiting for me? I’m sorry for doing the right thing.

Okay. This guy is persistent and a little bonkers. So I decide that he is someone who needs to be SHOWN not TOLD that this (he and I as a couple) won’t work. I think that the best thing to do is to meet him and DEMONSTRATE through words and body language that we are not a match.

I write: Sure. How about next Saturday.
Flyboy writes: Great. See  you then.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I may have mentioned – I majored in architecture – but I did it because it was expected of me. I really wanted to major in psychology – I wanted to help people with their problems, because the core of my nature is a relationship-building care-taker. And not care taker in the purely maternal sense, but in the sense take care of stuff – I get shit done.

However my parents thought the fields of medicine, accounting, law, engineering or architecture were better – professionally. I ruled out medicine since I don’t like blood. Since I am math challenged I ruled out engineering and accounting. Looking back – I could have been a lawyer, but I went with architecture.

About a year away from graduation I realized that I hated architecture. I was a dreadful designer and kept cutting my fingers with the exacto blade while building models late at night. But with one year to go for graduation there was no way I could change my major. Plus I liked lots of things about architecture – the history, the theory and actual practice of design – the long-range strategic ideals. I just didn’t really care about people’s door knobs and insulation – you know the details. 

So upon graduation and into the workforce I really didn’t spend much time designing. It was discovered that I could write well for a 22 year old, so I moved into administration, proposal writing, marketing, contracts and technical writing. And while none of it was fulfilling, I again liked the theory and strategy. Plus it was my family’s business and you can’t turn your back on family. There were times when I was 23, 25 and 27 that I wanted to move to New York – but my mother encouraged me to stay put, “Daddy needs” “We need you” “Desi Brother is starting college, Daddy really needs you” – so my inner Sita won and I stayed.

When I finally did move to New York years later, I stayed in the family business.

But now, as I am sitting here in the office listening to my brother explain the bleak forecast of work. The bleak economic downturn.  The bleak projection of design projects in the State of Minnesota, I get a pit feeling in my stomach. I worry that the office won’t be able to sustain three households (Dad’s, Desi Brother’s and mine).

And yes I have a tendency to react and perhaps over react – but as I do a gut check, I really think my architecture days are numbered. I now have a worry greater than finding a man to get married too, much less love. I have to actually really sustain myself, financially sustain myself in the Big Apple.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I take it all back. I am not divorcing Manhattan – at least the Big Apple is not sporting mosquitoes the size of newborn babies. Flies and rats maybe, but blood-sucking ‘skeeters, no.

In theory, one would think that your brother inviting you to sit in his lush green grass and tree lined yard would be a refreshing change from the concrete jungle I live in. And it was nice. Prosecco on the porch. Desi Niece overwatering the plants. Fresh air. Until the sun set and an army of buzzing mosquitoes descended onto the yard and ate me alive.

That is why, this morning I am a driving hazard, everyone on Highway 88 be careful! I am driving 55 miles an hour, one hand on the wheel the other hand scratching my welted legs non-stop. I have drawn blood – more blood. I should be quite the sight when I walk into Macy’s in 10 minutes.

“We should have a coffee first,” Mom says. This is our routine, whether we buy or not – oh who am I kidding – I buy, always on sale and with a coupon – but I buy! So first, I find a great parking spot, and then we walk through Macy’s to the coffee shop, have a coffee and then wander around the mall. “Fine, coffee is fine," I half-snap, half-whine. “Something wrong?” Mom asks. “No, I just can’t stop scratching my legs. Damn mosquitoes. Stupid state bird of Minnesota,” I mutter. Mom chuckles.

“Oh you find my pain funny?” I snap as we come to a red light. She gives me a dirty look and says, “No. Why would I want you to suffer?” she asks in that Mom voice that I know better to question. When the light turns green the car in front of us does not move. So I honk, lightly, but honk. They look up, startled. And proceed through the intersection.

“What are you doing?” Mom asks. “What? Driving?” I ask. She sighs and says nothing. We come to the next light. Same thing. The light turns green and they don’t move – so I honk a little longer and drop the f-bomb. Always attractive – I know. This time Mom makes sure to give me a dirty look. “What?” I demand. She shakes her head. At the third traffic light, between the non-stop scratching, Mom’s dirty looks and this ding dong who won’t proceed through the intersection, I lay down the horn and say, “why don’t these effing people move their effing cars when the effing light turns effing green?” Now – I did not say “effing” I did repeatedly drop the f-bomb, yes with my mother in the car. She did not flinch.

This time Mom sighs WAY deeply and says, “We don’t do that here.” Calmly, at the next red light I glance over and say, “What don’t you do? Drive when the light turns green?” “Honk. That is very aggressive. We are nice here.”

Well then. Between the mosquitoes and nice people I cannot take it anymore. Take me back to my island!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Desi Brother parks the car along the curb and slides the handicap permit onto the rearview mirror. “Do you know that the State of Minnesota took away my driver’s license?” Dad asks incensed. “Uhm, Dad you cannot move your arms and legs like a healthy person. I don’t think you should be commanding a motorized vehicle,” I suggest gently. “How do they even know I can’t walk?” Dad asks. I guess Big Brother is always watching. My brother glances at me through the rear view mirror and then pops the trunk for Dad’s wheelchair.

Dad pushes open the passenger side front door. My brother comes along side the car and helps Dad into the wheelchair. Once we are inside the hospital Dad takes off down the hall – like he’s on the German Autobahn or something. “Where is he going in such a hurry?” I ask. “It is like he has ants in his pants,” I add. “You should talk, Miss-I-Walk-A-Million-Steps-In-One-Minute,” Desi Brother says. “You should be careful who you mock. Desi Niece has ants in her pants,” I quip.

We get to the office of the Director of the Hospital’s Foundation and are quickly escorted in. The Director is a very nice woman in her mid-50s. She shares with us that she has been with Foundation for years and her greatest joy comes from meeting with patients in rehab and their families.

“I came to this country with $7 in my pocket. When I arrived at the airport in Minneapolis, I had the number of my host family and I could not find the dash, so I stood there for several minutes until someone came to help me make the call,” Dad says when the Director asks him about coming to America. “What was that first winter like?” she asks. “Living in New Delhi, nothing can prepare you for such cold. Sure, Delhi in December is cold. But that is once the sun sets and you feel the concrete under your feet. My wool coat that I brought from India barely got me through the first winter. We used to live on Como Avenue and our architecture studio was on top of Brueggers there on Washington Avenue…” (This walk from Como to Washington Avenue is 1.7 miles one way. In the cold, wearing a thin coat – with the wind cutting through you – this is three months of misery in the snow).

The Director seems utterly fascinated with Dad’s story – which I can understand it is remarkable what he has endured and achieved. “So why did you chose Minnesota?” the Director asks. Okay. In my New York life – I constantly get a funny look when I tell folks I am from Minnesota and my parents are from India. The reaction is generally because Minnesota is very cold and has a tiny Indian population, especially when there are places like Chicago, New York and Houston to pick from. So I joke and say Dad got into the graduate programs in architecture at the University of Minnesota and Harvard. Except due to visas and the like he had to wait until January for Harvard and September for Minnesota. And impatient (like me) Dad could not be bothered for Harvard. Then I generally say, “Can you believe this? I could have gone to Harvard on NO MERIT of my own, just nepotism….”

“My wife had to have surgery. It was a complicated cardiac procedure. And back in the 1960s India did not have the technology. But America did. So we came. We had never heard of the Mayo Clinic, a friend of ours advised us to make an appointment and go there. The Mayo Clinic saved my life the day they saved my wife. We went on to have these two beautiful children. I built a business. So 40 years later two days after Christmas when this family of mine brought me to the hospital, when I laying in the ER and could not move my arms, legs, feet, hands – I thought that that was the end for me…but again, I was saved,” Dad says.

OH. MY. GOD.I am emotionally twisted and it is taking EVERYTHING I have not to start balling like a baby. It triggers these feelings of - I don’t want to live here, in Minnesota. I moved away for a reason. But now I am wondering if I should come back. Maybe my relationship with New York is like a marriage, and maybe the time to divorce the Big Apple and return to the Minne-Apple has arrived.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


“Dad wants us to go to a meeting at the hospital with him tomorrow,” Desi Brother says to me when I come into the office carrying coffees from Caribou. This $4 a drink habit really needs to stop. “Meera and Rohit had a daughter,” I say. Seeing as how we are dispensing with “good morning” and going straight to talks of the day.

“Whaaaaat?” Desi Brother asks. “Uh-huh,” I reply. “Weren’t they supposed to have a boy?” he asks. “Uh-huh. They are the only people in the world who I could imagine this happening too. And you know – I kinda wondered. I just didn’t get the boy vibe,” I reply. “So you are physic now?” Desi Brother asks dryly and sips his coffee. “No – it just did not feel right in my gut, a boy,” I say and boot up the computer. “Okay – what is your prediction for the lottery numbers?” Desi Brother jokes.

We quietly drink our coffee for a few minutes and then Desi Brother says, “Dad has a helper, Nate. Outside of the house Dad needs a lot of help. Just warning you." “Okay,” I reply.  “Did they tell you that Dad plans to go to back to India?” my brother asks. Ugh. My family, God bless them, but they prefer to not disclose the truth to me. This is because I have the tendency to over-react and freak out and assume the worst. My parents and brother on the other hand seem to know how to keep their emotions in check. “How is he going there? He can’t walk?” I ask. I feel a little distressed that Dad wants to go back to India, where we think he got sick. How will he function there? Do his doctors know? Where will he stay? Is he taking this Nate fellow with him?

“When did Dad tell you this?” I ask and stomp back to my brother’s desk. Desi Brother makes a face. Clearly he has known for a while. “I just thought I’d warn you,” he says. “Well – we’ll see about this,” I snap. “Are you going to pick a fight with Dad?” my brother asks as we hear the back door open. “I don’t pick fights. I just ask questions and try and be the voice of reason,” I explain. Desi Brother makes a face and looks at me flatly. “You and Dad are exactly the same. You guys reason by arguing and having disagreements,” he reminds. “You think a handicapped man should travel to the Third World?” I ask very annoyed. “No, I don’t – but you for some reason, Gidget, believe that you can reason with an old, stubborn and a self-made man. He hasn't changed, so don't waste your time or emotions. You will be the one who ends up frustrated and feeling hurt, not him,” Desi Brother adds. Damn it! When did my LITTLE brother begin making so much sense?

Thirty seconds later Dad and Nate (who I have never met before so imagine my surprise when a young, tall, good-looking, Caucasian boy with looooong dreadlocks walks by) enter the building. It takes Dad another 30 seconds to walk about 20 paces to pass my brother’s desk where I am still standing. This has to be the most 30 miserable seconds I have had to endure in a long time. All I can hear is the sound of the metal walker slowly moving down the hallway. When Dad comes into view he flashes me a huge and smile and says, “Good morning beta, see how much progress I made?”

Tears sting my eyes. All the outrage I felt one minute ago drains out of me. When did Dad stop being invincible and become vulnerable? This really puts life into perspective - it really makes dating the wrong men and missing the A train by five seconds and being stalked by Flyboy so minimal.