Thursday, March 08, 2018

Where am I from?

This question is not new. People have questioned each other and themselves before. My wife asked me where I am from this week. My coworkers weighed in. Their opinions about where I am from differed from mine. I couldn’t change their mind.

Our marriage was arranged. My parents wanted me to marry someone in our own community. Here’s how we think of ourselves. My community is rabidly vegetarian. We eat no onion or garlic. People I know won’t eat jackfruit or mushrooms because they look like meat. There are festivals we celebrate in addition to Holi and Diwali in a very traditional, and to me, very dear way. Our roots lie in Agra district. And can’t really tell you what other badges and sashes I think we wear.

Two generations separate me from Bateshwar, the village which my grandfather left behind for Indore. Papa left Indore about 15 years before I was born. Papa is fond of Indore, rather of what Indore was. Amma grew up in Lucknow and doesn’t speak fondly of it. She speaks only of Hyderabad.

My wife grew up in Delhi. She never left home for college or work. It is only in the past year that I see some assimilation into Bangalorean life, but it’s two steps forward and one step back. She can understand some Kannada now and will chat with clients and rickshaw drivers equally animatedly. On bad days though, she uses regional epithets to curse the people around her. It’s as if Bangalore and all people south of the Vindhyas conspire against her. I’ve felt similar things myself. I think it’s part of maturing and growth.

At lunch, my wife brought up this question out of no where. She takes offence at my saying I am South Indian. She asked me what I like for dinner and what language I speak at home. My colleague piled on and asked me what language I pray in (?). I felt a little hurt when Andhrites refused to say I am from Andhra in the past. Although, they were right. I am from Hyderabad, more specifically Hyderabad Central University, not even Lingampally which is a few kilometers away.

I can put myself in the fishbowls they have lived in all their lives and how they have come to define their identities. Their hostility to challenging or even re-examining their definitions astounds me. Strangely in India, it’s not enough to say I’m Indian. Everyone is looking for clans and tribes. It’s just as true for me. “Indian” is too broad a VIBGYOR colored stroke. Everyone wants one specific smidge of the spectrum and looks for others of the same hue.

Frankly, I can’t explain why I think I’m South Indian. Like people like to point out, I don’t speak Telugu and South Indian food is not my staple. My parents “aren’t from” there. But they feel to see, apart from the glee of Indori expressions, I have no association with Indore. I get understand why people in Hyderabad and Bangalore feel about certain issues. I like how the courtesy with which they treat each other. I wonder, if you’ve spent more than half your life somewhere, do you not belong? More importantly, if that’s where you feel at home, if that’s the hue you like now, why are your genetics even an issue?

Of course this a minute facet of this human experience, this otherhood. Differences have stewed over generations and boiled over into genocide this way. This was a thought. This was a quandary. I’ll live I guess.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Papa and Siblings

I'm writing this out at the start of a work day. It could be because of a story on this American life I heard about an imminent death in some other family. It could be because, though I've been in the same country as my parents, I haven't had a chance to stay with them for more than a total of five days. The feeling of being with family is dearer to me than all parties and thrills of flirtation put together. With Amma, Papa and Noshi there is a sense of predictability that comes from familiarity. I know how much to say and when to be quiet. I know the jokes that Papa will appreciate and ones Noshi will. Listening to Amma gives me a sense of purpose in itself. It doesn't look like anyone else ever does. The predictability was the monotony I wanted to run away from when college began. I seek it now. Though we talk on the phone everyday, it's less than satisfying.
I think of how Papa and his siblings hangout when we get together at weddings. Papa is the middle child. An elder sister and brother followed by a younger brother and sister. The youngest sister, my aunt Baby Bua, passed away decade ago. Each of these people have influenced all of their lives. For instance, Daadi, my grandmother was called Baai Sahab or Amma until Baby Bua came along. She came along a full decade after Badi Bua, Papa's eldest sister.  Until she could speak, Daadi's reference was never contested. It was accepted the way they were taught. In comes Baby Bua calling Daadi, Mummy. After how many ever years, specially for Badi Bua, Daadi became Mummy. While people may say there's little to a name, at a certain emotional proximity, a name means almost as much as the person themself. My aunts and uncles were clearly close enough to accept that change of their own mother's reference by this this tiny child who I imagine was the centre of their lives and the household. I see how close they were when they talk about each other.
The most recent example was my cousin's wedding last year. Papa, the uncles and aunts would sit together over tea. Them being the elders, us kids, even if over forty take on an audience's role in reverence. The tone is set by Badi Bua, the matriarch. Tauji, Papa's elder brother chimes in very artful and charming oratory and imagery with some substance, maybe. Chacha, Papa's younger brother tries to outcompete all of them with more street, less artful conversation, but never satisfied that he won. Everyone knows they and only they, are right. Papa sits there absorbing the scene, occasionally throwing in a brilliant but silly joke. An undertone of detached futility and pointlessness of existence and the universe bases it all. Broken into smaller groups, Papa is happiest listening to Tauji. Papa has seen more of the world, geographically than Tauji. Tauji has had the less sheltered, self employed life, Papa hasn't. Tauji resents a lot in life. All of that is forgotten when they're together, perfectly happy to sit together and shoot the breeze.
I can see how Papa's thought process and outlook on life are pretty much Badi Bua's. Papa lived a single life away from home. I feel that he has fit his observations and experiences into her thought process. Unlike Papa, whose approach is somewhat "Que Sera Sera" to life from events as small as grocery shopping to as big as getting a Fellowship after retirement, Badi Bua plans out every detail in life. Maybe her early marriage and zest to provide and care for everyone she knows has something to do with it. I guess the stakes are high when you need to make sure the lives of patients, your children and family back home depend on you.
Chacha, in my mind, has survived and lived up all his life. Finances never held him back, whether they were there or not. I think he likes being with the siblings, but has forever resented not being taken seriously enough, as the younger of many siblings are wont to. Frankly, Badi Bua, Tauji and Papa always struck respectable figures to Noshi and I. We are perpetually bewildered at how Papa loves Chacha so much. He tells us something that I'm beginning to appreciate: "No matter what happens, he is my brother."
Whatever the history behind the dynamics between them, their dynamic as a group with others is distinct. When faced with having to interact with others, even distant family members and not necessarily strangers, they tend to clump together and move to the periphery of the gathering. I think of this is terms of solutes and solvents. We know how salts dissolve in the medium of water and are termed hydrophilic. We know how fats don't dissolve in the medium of water and are termed hydrophobic. Different fats that don't mix will clump together in water though. In a similar manner, this bunch of siblings I think, is sociophobic. Preferred mingling if you think of it that way. Among themselves they're tight and tighter still when around others.
Surely, this post is an introspective monologue and could be more structured, nuanced and entertaining. But it had to come out in some form, even if this is it. Maybe I'll write a book some day :D

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

That imprudent, hidden, Xenophobe in me

It was Republic Day yesterday. My heart swells with pride and my eyes well with tears when I hear a crowd singing "Jana Gana Mana". Whistling Vande Mataram gives me the same peace as prayer. I've expressed often how much I like being in my country, with my people, my languages, my music and food. My stay abroad reminded me how much I need them in my life. There'd be talk in the ether, never in my immediate surroundings, how foreigners shouldn't come to our great nation, in the US. We all, my colleagues and friends of any background, thought of people as ignorant and closed minded. And yet, I didn't know I had a bit of Xenophobia in me.
The other day, about a month go, in IIT Kanpur, some friends and I were lounging over coffee. There was a caucasian gentleman at a table nearby. I was telling some story about accents... or the tightness of families... or something else, I can't remember. I described someone of English descent as Firangi. A friend of mine said I shouldn't use that word because we had one in our vicinity. I, with a touch of irritation, blurted "Ye mera Desh hai!!". People laughed and we moved on. But the incident stuck in my mind.
I am revulsed by people telling immigrants to stay out of the west. I hung my head in shame when Nigerians were assaulted by a mob in the echoes of "Bharat Mata ki Jai!!" in New Delhi not too long ago. Shiv Sainiks, who won't let fellow Indians exercise their constitutional right to free movement within the country have earned tremendous disdain by many. I judge people who talk like that as 'them'. They don't represent me and I do not stand for such ideology.
And yet... I said it. In the context of being disrespectful to a fellow human, I said  "Ye Mera Desh Hai!" as if I have the right to disrespect a human being from some other country. The tragedy is that this sentiment appeals to from a vast majority of locals in most places in the world. In the moment, I felt in my motherland, I have the right to do what I want. It is the greatness of this nation that I can freely tote that thought. But then again, it's thoughts of contempt for humans that ruin even the greatest of nations. I do not want to be part of the dregs of human kind that don not respect all people equally.
Let's hope this thought gets assimilated in me for good. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Saying No

In this day and age where finding a spouse is tough, (or has is always been so?) bowing to the needs of the family complicates matters. I hold the need to keep my parents close to me throughout my life, very close to my heart. And yet, I don't see how they can possibly judge for me who would best be my companion for life. And so, we've agreed on their suggesting girls that they approve of and me speaking to them for some length time to know whether we click.
Through this process, I met someone who is, what I thought was all I can ask for in a girl. I mentioned to close cousins that all I ask is a workable roommate. Talking to people has corrected that notion. The girl I was speaking of, picked the profession she wanted to pursue early on, studied in lofty institutions, is independent and knows what she wants from life. Dream spouse, if you had asked me many months ago.
When we met, no sparks flew on either side. To expect them to have, would have been adolescent. Thanks to my parents criteria, we have similar backgrounds and were on the same page on just about everything. I cannot reiterate enough how precious this is. I've met people from vastly different backgrounds. From that dataset, I know, the odds of this concurrence are miniscule. She is really smart and driven. I love that in a human being. Knowing what you want tells you what is worth fretting over and what isn't. Such a person probably is at peace with their surroundings. Such a person is admirable.
Conversations with her were very well informed and exciting. They were on a variety of subjects: from international events, politics, art and literature. She writes poetry. That is very appealing. Her short poems were beautiful and moving. She shed light on perspectives hidden from my view. In the moment, I didn't appreciate being overruled in curt runs of speech. But later, I acknowledged I came away richer for having that conversation.
Being as busy as we both are, it was hard to find the time to meet. I'd drop a line asking how things are. I always got a reply: very curt and logical. Occasionally, when I'd asked of her aspirations, the reply was more than a sentence long. Over the past 5 months we may have met  about seven times. I would have liked to meet more and perhaps talk more. It would have been nice to take a walk or watch a movie, share inconsequential non-events that turn life from a rush to the finish line to pleasurable journey. Even an occasional Hi from time to time would've been nice. Some semblance of companionship is definitely desireable. I tried, to no effect.
And yet, when I suggested recently, that we should meet other people, I came away much sadder than I thought I would.
I can't help but feel I made her unhappy. I hate being in that position. That position sucks. Maybe this is the best thing to happen in the long run. But at this moment in time, possibly only by virtue of having known someone that long, in that context, having to turn someone down, hurts. But thankfully, there is the other less burdensome possibility, that it didn't matter much to her.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

A good first impression is easy to make,
Sustaining it is the problem.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Haircut

Waking up in summers across the world means different things. In Delhi, if you sleep on the roof in a mosquito net, you wake up drowning in your sweat. On a jute string cot in Khategaon district in Madhya Pradesh, you wake up at 5 to flies droning loudly around your face. The flies must've been explorers in their last incarnation. They love the uncharted territory of your nostrils. In Sweden, you can see the Sun. Isn't that nice!? The Sun is not much of a problem here, in Bengaluru like it is say, in Hyderabad.
Waking up in Bengaluru summers can be like waking up in a season different from the one in which you slept. I remember my first day in the new flat I rented. The landlord overlooked putting the fans up. It was a sultry night. Opening all the windows helped with ventilation a little, at least from the sides where a building doesn't stand at a handshake distance. The one hallway in the flat, between the bedroom and living room seemed coolest. That's where I spread my sleeping bag to sleep on. The sleeping bag has seen a lot of dirt on my camping trips. Never before though was it subject to such  streams of sweat trickling off my neck and ankles as it was that night. Packs of dogs screamed and howled between their panting. It was a three inch dangling dog tongue night. Sleep drew over me while regret over having picked this flat bounced around the block.
A little over six hours later, I woke up in Spring. The sleeping bag gobbled me in overnight. A breeze cooled off my neighbourhood. As I sat up in the sleeping bag, I didn't let its mouth sag to my waist. I liked my own warmth cocooning me. What a contrast from last night! Washing away the warm aura in a bath sounded like a terrible idea. A little akin to handing over your favourite, worn down, stringy T-shirt to no one in particular.
I stood for a moment, which my watch told me later was ten minutes, in peace, contemplating absolutely nothing, in my empty flat in a cool stream of air. Only the Koyal sang summer to me. The decision had been made. I would delay the bath. To justify this pig-like behavior (as I remembered Amma calling it), I decided to go get a haircut. Sunday promised to be the right day to get one.
I sauntered through rugged gravel roads. Through traffic consisted of rickety old Atlas Goldline bicycles, Audis, Ford Explorers and Renaults. As you stride, listening to a podcast, a 150cc motorcycle zips past, inches from you and about a foot away from a pothole. At the main road, one walks with a confidence that there can be no accidents in traffic. Vehicles, just never reach that critical speed. Pedestrians, dogs, cows, two wheelers and BMWs share the same footpathless, two-way, 20 ft road in a slow and clamorous crawl.
Exhaust and horns sweep away that comfortable aura I woke up in. A mantle of living among people, lot's of people remains. And thus I reached the saloon.
Yes, a saloon. That term that middle class southerners in the US cringe from, adorns this barber's shop. It's a smallish room with large wall to wall mirrors, oppositely placed at waist height. A really old, tinny looking vacuum tube type television is poised precariously at one corner of the mirror. There was no one there. Nor was there electricity.  It's already that time of the day when the word 'sunshine' ceases to evoke joy. I break a sweat in this 'saloon'. I've known barbers to be moody. They step out once in a while for a cup of tea and a chat with the neighboring storekeeper. Our hero, the owner of this saloon, is missing. While I wait for his return I settle down into a little nest of magazines. Our hero has an odd choice of leisurely reading. There is a collection of ancient Cosmopolitan and Femina issues with some Sports Star magazines piled at one end of the bench. The clientele here must have very broad interests to read a woman's views on a "hundred ways to please your man" and then to peruse the happenings in the Indian Premiere League. Or they just like to look at pictures. Who am I to judge... or even care?
The smells from the gutters outside start perking up with the sun climbing the sky. A little dog stands at the door, panting. It is two inch dangling dog tongue right now. It pants and looks at me and blinks its half closed eyes. The smell and heat fail bring out any love for this fellow being. I look at the opposite end of the room where a curtained door stood. Something seemed to ruffle the curtains. But no sound or human emerged.
A generator whirred from the shop next door. Diesel vapors and exhaust wafted in. I like that smell. It feels clean somehow. It felt like a time to read some commentary on Australian players in the IPL after having defeated Indians in the World Cup semifinals. No, it felt like a time to just stay occupied without getting excited.
A couple of Sports Stars later, and an hour that felt like two later, I looked over at the dog in the door.. It slept in the door like it owned the place. As people walked past, it barely opened an eye. I figured it was the reason the barber has such confidence in the security of his establishment. The dog's attitude though, was similar to the lackadaisiacal master of this house. He was still not to be seen. It was near lunch time. But then, the man himself, appeared in the flesh. He smiled so widely that I could think no ill of him. Behind him though followed a little boy who didn't want to step over the dog. The barber nudged the dog with his foot. It walked over to the next shop, and slept right in front of its door. What compels a dog to be in the way, all the time, is anyone's guess. The boy walked in and so did his Daddy behind him. "Uh Oh!" I thought. Part of the beauty of respecting age is that you have to be benevolent to tiny twerps, even if you have the right of first service. This is what the Dad was going to ask of me: To let this poor little boy get a haircut please, because, afterall, he has a small head and  the haircut would take no time. The dad exactly this, with one facial expression that lasted a second. I looked down at the boy, his eyes open wide looking at me. I felt big hearted in that moment, and fooled in the next, when I let him get his haircut. But anyway... whaddyegonnado?
I put myself in the place of that boy for a second. Before a haircut, the spray of water on one's head on days like these, felt so grand. Part tickling and part relaxing. My barber back then would spray a couple more times for my enjoyment. That fun of sitting in a spray hasn't gone away though. It's still a lot of fun. The memory was also helping me survive this steady stream of perspiration at joints of all appendages. I wished dearly the barber had invested in another fan in stead of this tiny, tinny TV which had been on for a while now. Psychologists would love the behavioral effects of this device on our hero. It was quite amazing. It was amazing in the British sense of the word, not the sense across the pond. The TV extended a certain pull on this man, chopping hair off the little boys head with special scissors. Such hypnosis is rarely seen. The crappy daytime rerun of a drama had a vice like grip on the barber. He'd snip some hair for less than a minute and then look up at the screen. Within seconds the look turned into a stare and his eyes suddenly lost all emotion. The scissors and comb remained suspended in air all this while. And then, definitely not in response to the woman crying on screen for her cheating husband, he giggled and came back to the hair in front of him and started cutting again. He started cutting and kept at it for another two minutes before the same behavior repeated itself. He'd stop cutting, look up the screen, space out, giggle and get back to planet earth. The longest stretch of cutting hair that I marked on him, between the TV meditations, was about four minutes. After a few rounds of making contact with his alien master, or whatever he was doing, the barber looked out the window and gave another exceptionally warm smile. Even the word warm made my stomach turn because it was that hot right then. In walked the hero's friend, his sidekick and partner in television hyponses! This man... or boy... or man-boy is a fixture at this shop. He's a little like the welcome sign outside the shop: Perfectly useless, but always there. He came in sat in the nest of print media.
The addition of another person to that steam pot of a room was suffocating. It was past lunchtime. I was hungry. A cup of tea from a neighbouring shop sounded like a good idea. It was hot, and a hot tea was still the way to go.
The told the barber I'd be back in one minute. That's how long I estimated it'll take him to finish the little boy's haircut: fifteen minutes. My tone may have been sharp. Pleasantness had drained away from the day which was on its second leg. The second leg of a Sunday, is traditional nap time in my family. But here I was just looking onto a lazy street with little traffic right now. I heard someone speaking in Marathi two doors down. I love being able to listen in on conversations and appear as though I haven't a clue what's being said. Most conversations are mundane, something about there not being enough water in tank or the car being parked too close to the gate. I feel no guilt on that account. Besides, it's some relief from this boredom our hero has put me through.
At the shop, I was fully prepared to find the boy and his dad having left, the barber and his bud lost in the timeless beauty of that shitty television. And yet, the man was at work. At least in that brief window of time when that saw my coming. In the chair in front of him, sat not the sweet boy, but someone he might grow into. The barber no longer had scissors and a comb in his hand, but a razor. The father of the child, was now getting a shave. The barber looked at me as if I caught him cheating with him my wife. The Dad looked as though he were my wife. We exchanged stares for a good minute. And then, the Dad did that thing... that pathetic, second long, expression that so very clearly says to all us Indians, just another minute, please adjust.
I silenced a wail in my head. As my gut bayed and chest shrank, my mouth stretched, trying desperately to effect a smile. I figured it's alright. The barber can't space out during a shave. A confrontation demanded more energy than this was worth.
I sat at the end of the bench where the nest was not. The sidekick was asleep, snoring, in fact. The barber seemed to focus on the man in front of him completely.  There were swift swoops on the face cleaning away chunks of foam. The cheeks were done, the neck was done, the mustache swept clean off the face. The neanderthal looking Dad, was now baby faced. He got up, paid and left with his son. This had to be the quickest occurrence of the whole damn day! The barber looked at me. I got up. I almost did. My breath was heavy and I couldn't move. I couldn't move a muscle. "Saar!" called out the hero. I breathed heavily and felt trapped. I could not move. My breath got heavier. So much so, I was going to suffocate. Was this a heart attack? Could smoking really give me a heart attack at 30? I heard a snore from myself. It wasn't a snort, but a snore. The second time it happened, I opened my eyes. Damn dream!  The dad's shave was done. The friend was settling into the chair for a haircut.
Without uttering a word, I was on my way to the flat. The whole city had the aura of a bad omelette: Icky, sticky and smelly. The decision to never return to this "Saloon" had just been made. A resolution to not see another barber for a whole damn year was made too. My head swam in the heat. At my mirrorless flat, I dumped a pale of water on my head and in a woefully painful succession of strokes, shaved my head.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Tragic Saga of a Week Long Romance

Deeptanu admits it to me in confidence. He's lonely. One can only admit this over a drink and despondency. So do about ten other friends who are literally half a world away from home, who aren't married yet. He was morose over beers yesterday. Years ago, we'd sit around lustily admiring girls who're smart and beautiful from a distance. The distance has been self imposed and self enforced. Deeptanu, the stupid bum gets attached easily and blames Bollywood movies and shayari for carrying his heart on his sleeve. Hence the distance. Never having seen real romance between adults, he bit the bullet and decided to experiment with online dating, six months ago. Which may not have been a good time, really. He couldn't have known.
It was a whirlwind online romance. They started talking on a Wednesday and Deeptanu had her phone number by Thursday afternoon. Deeptanu was suspicious of how quickly this had progressed. He in fact wanted to Skype to make sure he was talking to the same girl from the picture. It is uncharacteristic of online interactions to go from messages directly to Skype. Deeptanu didn't use the phone number, but got a call Friday night. He was out so he dind't talk at all. He got a call on Saturday afternoon too. They spoke for an hour. The conversation went so well that Deeptanu was suspicious again. But when you like talking to someone, caution gets thrown to the wind.
Here's an example of why he enjoyed talking to her. He asked what the view is like from her office. She said it was a concrete jungle and a few sad pigeons walking on the ledge. Very much the imaginative being he is, Deeptanu goes " You mean their feathers look ruffled and their eyes are crazy? Other white pigeons with beautiful feathers strut about like they have somewhere to be. The sad rock pigeons look like their dog just died, their wives just left them and their truck broke down."
She laughed and went... "Yes, the pigeon's truck broke down.." and then went into peels of laughter... "And he picked up a banjo and started drinking" she added.
The connection of silliness between two people clicks instantaneously. Laughing without contempt at the absurd comes from an acceptance of  existence as it is. Sometimes that acceptance is cosmetic: beneath it seethes a complete and utter discontent. Deeptanu has seen it before. He is afraid he's seeing it again. She even said on saturday, "I can see us together, happy forever after". Deeptanu said to me "This situation resembled this other fickle crazy I knew, fell in love with in spite of my guard being on high alert, and got jilted.". "Her smarts and sense of humor were assets, among others, and the online one was turning out to be the same." And like before, the conversation never seemed to end! Quite literally. On Saturday and Sunday they spent the equivalent of a workday on the phone. He didn't mind that she kept receiving texts at the frequency she did. "She's either very popular, or I'm not the only one she's talking to." he thought, but gave her the benefit of the doubt, like he did another crazy from over a decade ago. They talked about books, family, friends, art, traveling, writing and stories... Here was an audience to whom every single one of his stories was new. She would be his canvas to color in with tales.
Deeptanu was a couple Knob Creeks into his story. He raised the glass to ceiling lamp, watching the potent bourbon glint. "Knob Creek, she liked this drink..." but realizing he was talking about someone else altogether, brought his glass back down. As if nothing had happened he went on "She called me when she was driving home from work on Monday. She said she liked me because she thinks I can be trained. I wondered what she thought I am, a dog?"  They spoke for a bit and she had to get into her apartment and shower, she told him. She texted a little later saying she was out of the shower. Her citrus body wash made every pore on her body feel fresh. Deeptanu tells me, when he's that into a girl, a mere allusion like that puts a vivid, borderline graphic, image in his head. He doesn't let in on though. She calls and they talked into ungodly hours of the night.
Deeptanu wondered on Tuesday morning if she was able to work during the day at all. He held his cool. So far, he hadn't been the first person to text. He heard somewhere 'To deny a desire is to defeat it.'. Deeptanu has always been a semi-pompous ass that way: quoting one liners in context, such that the story seems bigger than it is. Bengalis can be like that. Sometimes, the lines seem to work events around themselves. This one time he was telling me about his father at the hospital. He was the supervising doctor for that shift. A couple of young doctors watched a corpse being wheeled away on a gurney and joked about it. Deeptanu's father was miffed at this lack of respect for the deceased. One of the junior doctors is supposed to have said "You get used to seeing corpses in a hospital." to which his Dad is supposed to have replied "I've been in this hospital for twenty years and I'm not used to it. How can you be?". A passionate scene, this does evoke. I'm sure something similar must have happened. This scene also happens to be right out of an Amitabh Bacchan movie.
But this is his story, so I convey it you as it was told. On Teusday evening he kept looking at his phone for her texts. None came. He looked for things to do, but couldn't settle on anything. The phone was unusually inert that day. Yes, unusually so. Long conversations, even a couple of them, become 'usual' before you can acknowledge it to yourself. He didn't text her. He knows that once he starts, his texting her, will become the new 'usual'. The first text is all it takes. He knows himself well. So he tosses and turns in bed and glides into somnolence at yet another ungodly hour, speaking to no one, like he did five nights ago. Whether it was anticipation, or the coffee he had at 5pm, one cannot say. Again, Bengalis!
He spent Wednesday waiting for the sun to set. She called on her commute from work. He is surprised he doesn't remember what it exactly was they spoke of. He usual does. Whether the conversation was boring, or that the question why she hadn't called on Tuesday, lurked at the back of his mind, he didn't tell me. They spoke again after her shower. The words 'breasts and thighs' were used later. Deeptanu cursed himself for having a Y chromosome. He managed to stay focussed on a clean conversation however. She later offered that she was talking to other men the night before. Deeptanu felt special that he had her exclusive attention of the past couple of days.
I count this as a red flag, but clearly Deeptanu didn't at the time. That night, she told him of all the previous men she had been with, even texting him pictures of them, disclosing details about their lives that sane people try to protect. The details of her escapades with them, drove the back and forth into an... adults only direction. At this point Deeptanu whipped out his phone showed me pics, not of the exes, but her, in her... naturalist moods. Let us say their talk reached a mutually beneficial climax.
Six Knob creeks will do that to a man. He shares more than warranted.
Thursday morning, put a brake on Deeptanu's teenage dream. News from home was ominous. His father had just had a a heart attack and Deeptanu would have to leave for home very soon, for good. Thursday evening as spoke with her over the phone again, his enthusiasm was subdued. Right before she was about to fall asleep, he mentioned what had happened and its consequence on his future plans. He added that he's understand if wouldn't consider moving to India with him. She said " I never said I wouldn't consider it. One of my friends of Indian descent who grew up to be a doctor here, decided to marry and move to India. They are happy there." For a second Deeptanu wondered, is this sleep talk or did he just become a really lucky man! He found out next night. 
This is what he heard "Do you really think, I'd give up a happy life here in the land where I was brought up to go to new a place, that really isn't mine!? My parents maybe, but me?! Are you crazy? I know what you did. Nothing has happened to your father. You're making things up. I bet you couldn't stay anyway and wanted a last hurrah! Look, my family and I are above this! We don't need people like you among us. You make me sick. You come from a filthy land and just want to have fun. What happens in America stays in America right! How dare you toy with my hopes and emotions. You f^&*ing liar! You disgust me. I hate people like you. You have no right to be here..." The barrage of insults was unceasing. Deeptanu went numb. His face felt cold. He didn't know what to say! No one in her state, is ready to talk logically or even accept truths. He could never had dreamt of her ever sounding like this. And yet, he couldn't hang up, for the same reason as he kept looking at his phone a few evenings ago. In less than twelve hours, everything that seemed peachy, wilted. "...And just remember, you played with my emotions and I hope you suffer."
Deeptanu was stunned by events, stung by her vitriol and stumped by what he'd do next. Eight friggin' Knob Creeks! They make a grown man cry.
He went back to his apartment and wept some more I imagine. He's preparing to head back home. He's definitely never dating online anymore, or so he says. People like him, are always looking, but she never comes into their life for very long.
He could be a  carefree player that hops from girl to girl or juggles many girls at a time, which is very appealing on screen. You need to be shallow with the emotional attention span of a gecko to pull it off. Thankfully, I have no such friends.

* This is my first attempt at fiction.