My parents like to talk on the phone. A lot. I am not particularly a phone person. I keep my calls short and I prefer being with people face to face. My friends know I am not the best at returning messages. I mean, I DO. It’s just a question of when that might happen. Text me, and you’ll have your answer right away. Call me and you might be waiting till your pre-schooler enters middle school.
So I’m not a phone talker. Which means, I’m not the best phone caller. This really bugs the shit out of my folks. When my parents don’t hear from me for a few days, they will undoubtedly call me in Virginia all the way from New Jersey. They would call every day if they could, and sometimes they do, but they try to temper themselves a little bit and play it cool.
When I was a kid, I used to write “Letters to Myself.” This may seem odd and no, I don’t have multiple personalities. I just wanted to make sure that as an adult, I didn’t forget about all the “horrible” things my parents did to to embarrass me while I lived under their roof. I figured if I could warn myself in the future and help prevent my children from suffering the same kind of embarrassment that I had been through, we could potentially break the cycle. Thus leading to less money spent on counseling sessions, which would be a win-win from any perspective, because even my parents would agree that we shouldn’t waste money. I didn’t start the letters until I was in middle school, but I think I covered my bases pretty well.
So without further ado, let me present you with the teenage Masala Chica’s list of parental “Dos” and “Don’ts.”
We leave our house, ready for the party she’s been anticipating for days with her full princess regalia on. The invite encouraged all the guests to come dressed as a princess, a fairy or a mermaid. We cheated a little. Instead of wearing a princess costume, Shaila decided she would wear one of her beautiful Indian outfits and go as Jasmine. The deep purple fabric of the lehnga looked incredible on her. It was a bit long, so I wanted to pin it up. She, however, was adamant that she wear it just the way it was. Almost like she wanted to have a floating train on the dress.
I probably should have argued a little bit more strongly, but she looked so darn cute and so excited that I just went along with it.
“When I grow up I want to be a slut,” said no girl. EVER.
The other night I was talking to an old friend about nothing and everything. We somehow ended up talking about a reality show, since everything in my life has about two degrees of separation from the Bravo Network. The subject moved to the storyline of one of the the women that appears on this show. I don’t know her, but she seems like a really sweet woman with an amazing personality, which says a lot for anyone represented on reality television. I think it’s fair to say that 80% of them DON’T seem like real “quality” people. Quite the opposite, even.
Anyway, I would guess that this woman is about 40 years old. I can’t say for sure, but she seems so nice, like she would give you the shirt off her own back.
I check Facebook too much. Whether it’s to look at my news feed or to read what someone REALLY thinks about John Mayer and Katy Perry dating again, it’s a total crutch for me. John knows this and if he sees me looking down at my phone, he’s always like, “Really? Facebook? Again?” So I try to be very stealthy about the whole thing.
So I was sitting there, trying to read my news feed in stealth mode when I got a message. I get very excited about Facebook messages. I don’t know why but I think it has something to do with not having a very exciting life.
Anyway, I opened the message and was a little confused.
Me: What’s an amend letter?
I don’t have many friends who are models or on television. I do have a handful of friends who I sometimes get a get the opportunity to see unexpectedly, like when I’m waiting for a route canal and open a magazine at the Dentist’s office. This never becomes dull – I get excited every time. I still think it’s cool when we see our friend Craig peddle pretzels in commercials on television or notice my friend Sang’s cousin, Gene, on the Tempur-pedic brochure at the mattress store. In fact, I am pretty sure the reason we bought a Temper-pedic bed was because Cousin Gene looked like he was having so much fun on it. In a PG kind of way, of course.
The other person I see from time to time is my friend, Jennifer.
THIS is Jennifer.
A lot of people ask me the question, “Where are you from?” I know most people ask because they are curious about my ethnicity, not because they want to know which state of the Union I identify myself with. But I am never really sure, so often ask, “What do you mean?” I will respond without hesitation once they clarify. In some cases, people are actually asking about the state I am from, after they catch the subtlest hint of what remains of my Jersey accent.
When the question is about my ethnicity, the responses I get range in nature from slight head nods to outward enthusiasm to the highly offensive. Here are a few examples:
“I love Indian food! I love Indian culture. That’s so cool.” An enthusiastic response.
“Wow, you’re pretty for an Indian!” Yeah, that’s a very informed thing to say. No, it’s not.
A lot of my friends don’t remember their childhood. I think that’s strange because I seem to have so many memories of my childhood and I wonder sometimes if my memories are real or just fragmented narrations that I have mentally pieced together through pictures. Birthday cakes, favorite dolls, memories of parties, family and Jordache.
Lots of Jordache.
I think the year that I started to remember with clarity was around 1981. I was five.
That year, my mother took me to India to visit family. It was the first trip that I actually remember, although I had been there before. Going to India was no easy jaunt across the ocean. It was a long flight to New Delhi, with a never ending connection at Heathrow, a bustling place where my mother and I lost our way around for a while. Luckily, my mother was eventually able to steer us to the Duty Free to load up on Dunhill cigarettes for my grandfather during that break, so we got something accomplished before boarding the second leg.
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
- Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”
“Last morning, I peed my pants.”
“Last morning, I got a boo boo, Mommy.”
“Remember? Last morning, Shaila hit me.”
These are all things my three year old son, Nico, can say on a given morning. You would think that “last morning” might mean yesterday, or the day before yesterday morning. But no. Last morning can really be any morning that happened in the past. Heck, it might even be an afternoon or an evening.
We have a lot of stories about “last morning” going on in this house. “Last morning” basically is a sum of all our yesterdays; it’s where the accidents of our past took place and where we lay our mistakes to rest.
“Mom, where is your family from in India?” Shaila asked me the other day.
“Your grandparents are from a state called Bihar.”
“Well, it’s in the North.” I explained, “If you were looking at a map of India, it would be at the top, near a country called Nepal.” I explained.
She looked at me blankly.
“Here, I’ll show you.” Rather than pulling out a handy map though, I had something much better.
“Mommy! What are you doing?!!” Shaila yelled at me, diva hands on hips and all.
I had pulled up a pant leg in the middle of the mall, figuring I could find some vein formation on my legs to show her the geographical landscape of India. It didn’t take long to find an imperfect asymmetrical peninsular shape of India on the map somewhere on my right cankle.