"Been There, Done That" Desi Dudes

The evolution of the aging upwardly mobile single desi.


I was in a state of extreme vegetation on a cold June afternoon. I had watched Ricky Lake’s shocking paternity disclosures, Judge Joe Brown’s biased rulings and the tribulations of a computer geek spending three days with a Penthouse model on Shipmates. I was coerced to crawl out from the cozy confines of my goose down duvet to locate my cell phone that had been ringing incessantly.

It was my friend Sanjana calling to see if I was up for a drink with some boys we had bumped into at a party a few weeks earlier. The boys seemed pretty much on the same page we were, mid-30’s going on 21 with a downtown fashion sense and a chilled out demeanor. An evening of playful banter seemed just the stimulus to nudge me out of blahdom so I agreed to head out 9-ish.

We picked up a few more girls and headed to a bar in one of Soho’s trendy boutique hotels. It was a vast space designed by the genre of Ian Schrager clones that seem to have invaded the city. There were couches with clean lines and geometrically imperfect tables drenched in erotic lighting that always makes people feel like they just don’t belong in this world of painfully chic minimalism. The boys were already there sipping glasses of Merlot and fawning over a couple of inebriated suburban girls. They seemed truly psyched when we showed up and we were soon thrown into a frenzy of introductions.

Rishi was a 36-year Punjabi guy with a cherubic face and an overcompensated macho personality. He fancied himself the ringleader of his tightly knit testosterone gang and was just way out there. He seemed to have done it all in the last three decades. He had achieved his career goals, traveled extensively, been through his share of intense relationships, tamed his alcoholism and found himself through a journey of self-discovery. It was almost pathetic that he had nothing left to look forward to.

Aneesh was a handsome 35-year-old with an easy charm. It was his candor that I found really appealing. He had made a lot of eye contact at our first meeting and didn’t seem like your average Lothario.

I was looking forward to reconnecting our vibe and scouring for potential sparks. I’m not sure if it was the wine, but he started very early with the sexual innuendo. I may have provoked it by flirting with him at our first encounter and I made a futile attempt of redeeming myself by trying to steer away from the coquetry to something tamer.

Aneesh then took a total 180-degree turn and confessed he couldn’t get me out of his mind. I was beginning to feel all tingly as he gazed into the limpid pool of my eyes and profess his honorable intentions. He was in a long-term relationship, which was heading to Doomsville because his girlfriend was hinting at matrimony.

The horror of a 30-plus woman wanting to nudge her boyfriend of many years into a commitment was just stressing pretty boy out so he was ready to test the waters. A dinner at a really chichi place and an opportunity to see what else was out there is all he wanted. I wasn’t sure if a shot of tequila would save the moment, but I had to walk away to avoid puking on him.

Jay was a Veep at some financial bastion. He was a suburban transplant and didn’t have the metro sexual look that most desi guys in the city have. He did have a quick wit and I had moved to the bar to recoup so it felt nice to have some comic relief. It took him about 45 seconds to drop the nice guy veil when he turned to me and asked “Brazilian or not Brazilian”? It took me another 30 seconds before I realized he was alluding to my waxing preferences. The night just got disgusting enough for me to return home to some late night reruns of Friends when an almost adolescent looking boy, who had been politely waiting his turn, held out his hand and said “Hi, I’m Nikhil.”

There was something about his eyes that fascinated me. He was so genteel in his manner, so attentive as we talked about Bose systems over a whiff of fresh air in a night soaked with the stench of blatant irreverence. Our conversation was flowing easy and it felt like we were old friends catching up.

The caveat was that he was 25 and I was a decade older, but he seemed unfazed. We had both come out of serious relationships and had become impervious to dating. I didn’t need to talk to anyone else that night because we were just immersed in sharing our worlds with each other. It was a night that ended with me wistfully wishing he were at least 30 and Nikhil shrugging off age as just a state of mind.
I’m sitting at Tao with Sanjana and some of the other girls as we dissect the night over mint soaked Mojitos. Are most single desi guys in their mid-30’s just “has beens” with very little left to look forward to?

Are we better off being single and optimistic rather than being around a bunch of cynical older guys who live vicariously through the exploits of their youthful heydays? Are the tides changing that, like Demi, we need to be with younger men who laugh with abandon and live with passion?

I’m looking forward to my bike ride in the park tomorrow with Nikhil, when I can feel the wind in my hair and levity in my heart.

Sandhya Ganti is a physician and writer navigating the singles scene in New York City.  

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