“You never ask for directions”, she wailed. “You never listen to me. You can’t find the place because you just aren’t interested in going. You never like partying with my friends…..”
I think she was paying way too much attention in the business communications class. No wonder she was using a “you” in every sentence and totally ignoring the “I”. Using “you” lays more emphasis on what you wish communicate. So the book said. Either way, her tone was laying emphasis on all the words. Thankfully my brain’s auto locking mode was activated and her words bounced off a force field round my ears. Guys have that built in feature which girls realize much later in the relationship.
“How much do I mean to you”, she snapped at me out of the blue, looking me squarely in the eye and smacking my leg. That immediately broke the force field. It is meant to protect guys from sharp words, not feminine physical abuse. The stare was an antithesis to the natural softness of her voice.
I’ve read somewhere that strong men don’t cry. So I managed a smile. I bravely gazed in the hazel reflection and mumbled, “You are the best there is……(her gaze softened, maybe I caught a hint of smile. Damn I’m good at this)……The best there was (surely that can’t be a frown again)…….And the best there ever will be (did that cold gaze even disappear within that split second).
“You said there wasn’t anyone before me! So how do you know I’m the best there was!” (Those words taught me an important lesson in my late teens, “Never lie unless you have a good memory or are smart with words). The look of suspicion reminded me of my 7th grade class teacher when she’d discovered three pastries missing before the Christmas party. No prizes for guessing that all eyes were on the fattest kid in class. How I hated being fat! And a message to my plump brethren: We are lazy body abusers who aren’t adding any value to our body through our large calorie intake.
“How do you know ‘ever will be’! Are you seeing someone else?” (For a second, that accusation made me feel like Brad Pitt. But it definitely wasn’t a compliment). “Take me home right now!” It’s funny how the context of exactly the same words changes on either side of a date. The fact that we were lost and I did not know the way home was lost on her.
Date: Some Saturday night, 2008. Time: 11:00 pm.
“Turn right”, she said in her smooth voice, as I pulled into the parking lot of my house. I smiled lightly as I gazed at her radiant face. It had been that way all evening. She showed tremendous understanding despite the fact that I still drove like an Indian on American streets. Not once did she scream when I was nanoseconds away from banging into a car or millimeters from scraping the car’s bumper against the sidewalk while parking.
That evening had been a dream. She was the best guide to me in the new city. She answered all my questions about the city, however stupid they seemed. She never screamed and abused me if I headed in the wrong direction by mistake. She wanted me to see as much of the city as I could in my short trip.
She told me about the best restaurants to dine in, which I later did. She spoke multiple languages so I could learn a lot from her. She was very talkative in the car so I was thoroughly entertained. She was a fountain of knowledge. That’s a trait which I appreciate. By the time I had turned the ignition off, I was totally in love. And the best thing was that she had not asked about my past or future experiences!
I gently helped her out of the car and took her inside the house. I was humming to myself as I entered the dark living room before flicking on the lights. Laying her on the couch, I gazed her and admired her sleek form. A GPS system for navigation is such a boon.
Talking of navigation, my roommates have totally “lost it” in the past few months. Cleanliness has gone out of the window. Our kitchen has started to resemble a garbage disposal site. On the bright side, despite being in the US for almost a year, we have not moved away from our Indian roots. We still treat our home in small town Bethlehem, PA, like our beloved Mumbai. So we just toss chocolate wrappers on the floor, beer cans in the corner of the room/ under the couch, unwashed plates in the refrigerator, coffee mugs on the couch etcetera; akin to what a majority of the population does back in our homeland. Before any jingoistic retards start abusing me, I would advise them to stop living in denial, get out of their ivory towers and walk the streets of Mumbai.
I am using the terminology “we” with regards to the trash at home despite me not contributing to the mess (I use the trash can outside the house). Because whatever my story may be, they will have their own version. And as we all know, every story has 3 sides: my side, their side and the truth. But on the brighter side, all this mess has helped me develop a fascination for realistic photography. I remember “renowned” photographers getting awards for capturing the civic plight of Mumbai. They usually title such photographs on the lines of “colors of India”. It was a long standing dream of mine to shift from my forte of “shallow” fashion photography, where I objectified beautiful humans. I wanted to do something “hard hitting”, “gritty”, “realistic” that would create an impact. Something that is not meant for the weak hearted. I wish to put forth my nomination for the next photography awards.
Since I do not wish to cook in that kitchen again, I’ve given up cooking on the whole. With all due respect to my culinary proficiency, I’m sure my roomies have breathed a bigger sigh of relief than me. Now the only edible thing we share in the house is beer. On most occasions beer is the lowest common factor which unites people and end wars.
Besides losing their minds, my roomies seem to have lost their ability to aim at the toilet pot. It’s amazing to miss something with a diameter of that size from barely a foot away. They would have definitely sucked at basketball a lot more than they suck at basic civic sense. Their d***s seem to act like a bat who has a conked off SONAR; flapping around aimlessly. I told them this in exactly the same words. It evoked laughter on the lines of when I begged them not to try and “compete” with the Niagara Falls at 3:00 am since the “maid of the mist” there was not a domestic help who would clean it up later. It was laughter that would have made any standup comedian proud. At times, trying to spread social awareness through humor is such a vice.
In India, we are fed a steady diet of social awareness messages which tell us not to complain, but take concrete action to improve civic sense. Well I will if someone just tells me what action I should take in this respect. Should I hold it for them? Or invent something for them to prop it on? Or ask them to use the bathtub (if they miss that, I’ll hang myself). Well in simple words, I won’t do it! I will act like a typical middleclass English speaking city bred aloof non voting Indian and use the other toilet. Period.
While we are on this topic of “manhood”, I remember my trip to Washington DC. The Washington Monument did not give me an inferiority complex as most guys claims it gives them. I remember one of my favorite comedians, Jeff Dunham’s quip about it being “an ode to Bill Clinton”. Now that’s apt! We did take some photographs there. We posed in positions which satisfied our male ego and generated unbridled laughter from the other tourists.
Abe Lincoln didn’t seem too pleased with our actions. His face bore an admonishing look when we went over to his statue. Or maybe it was a sign of pure disgust. I’d be disgusted too if I’d been made to sit and stare at a phallus like structure for decades.
And finally, this summer, I fulfilled my parent’s long standing dream of getting into MIT. They always said they would be proud to see me there. I am sure they are happy that I finally got through and made it. As a tourist in Boston, notwithstanding.