October 17th, 2008

I am not a chick

What Can Brown Do for You?

I am sort of Indian, sometimes. I'm certainly not Indian enough for my parents, who want me to have more Indian friends and marry an Indian girl, but I am...sort of Indian, sometimes.

There's Ravi (zetetyc). We met freshman year at Rice, in fencing class. Amusingly enough, the reason we got to know each other is because we had the same last name, so our lockers were right next to each other. And Hanszen and Sid were on the same side of campus, so we walked home together. The color of our skin was incidental, but I have no idea at this point what we actually talked about. There were other Indians at Rice, and I met several of them when I did a bhangra dance for South Asian Night, but I didn't connect with them the way I connected with Ravi. Somehow, Ravi became incorporated into my group of friends that branched out from Alexis, and we hung out a lot, and we visited his house several times, and I met his family. He's my Token Indian Friend.

I saw him yesterday in Sundance Square; we browsed the graphic novel section at Barnes and Noble and I gave him recommendations. We then browsed the sci-fi/fantasy section and he gave me recommendations (and a copy of The Name of the Wind). I think we had fallen a little out of touch post-graduation, as tends to happen, but I'm glad to have gotten back in fairly regular contact this past year.

Then there's Piyusha. I don't remember exactly how we met. It was either at Anand Bazaar, the annual giant desi D/FW gathering scheduled around Independence Day, or the SAT class at the Hindu temple. It's sad that I have so little specific recollection of time just a decade ago, but I do remember that we e-mailed a lot. A lot. I wish I had saved all those e-mails before my Hotmail address went kaput. We also called each other and talked for a long time; I had to be all secretive since I was talking to a girl. She was dating someone at the time, so it wasn't as if I could do anything, but, in retrospect, I had pretty strong feelings that I just didn't recognize and couldn't characterize at that age. I may have thought it was love, the way I kept thinking about her, but then a few years later I discovered how all-consuming love could really be. I say all this because in those days, I did actually have crushes on Indian girls. Because I was exposed to them more often, being forced to go to all the functions, participating in the folk dances every year. Most I didn't know very well, and the attraction was purely physical, and I don't know if I would crush on them now, but the fact remains that I once did. I've changed a lot from that person, and I do hope the Liking Indian Girls trait has remained, or I'm going to be in trouble.

We fell out of touch during college; I think I saw her once on a visit home...six or seven years ago. But a few weeks ago, I was browsing Facebook and saw a "Piyusha" in a friend's friends, and it reminded me of her, so I did a search and...there she was. I hoped she remembered me. She did, and she was really happy to hear from me and glad that "poltrcow" still existed. If I were British, I would have been chuffed. She had just gotten married five months ago. She looked very happy in her picture.

We met for lunch today in Dallas. She had thought I was in the Corolla because, Indian, but I waved to her from inside a giant Dodge van. I suggested we eat at Potbelly since we had none in California, so we went in her car. She asked me not to make fun of her for having a five-foot gorilla in the backseat. On the ride there and over lunch, we caught up. It was interesting. Because, as I said, I remember so little about our relationship when we were teenagers (except the name of her boyfriend at the time, which elicited a "Good memory!"), but we had been good friends. And we had both grown since then and become slightly different people, but we were still friends now, despite our hiatus.

So I have to keep reminding myself that there are Indians out there I can relate to, whom I can carry on conversations with. The trick is finding them and not being afraid to talk to them. It may be that I'm having a similar issue to the one I have with girls in general: I'm more afraid of what happens if they say yes. I'm afraid of actually making more Indian friends because then I'll be fulfilling my parents' wishes and making them happy. What will I have to complain about then? I have to reclaim my friendships. I have to reclaim my wife search. Damn you, Jhumpa Lahiri. I want more Indian friends because I want to be more than just sort of Indian, sometimes.