Saturday, January 15, 2011

Intro Part IV: The Marathon Date

"How difficult can locating a giant whale be?" I muttered to myself as I raced through the cavernous rooms of the Museum of Natural History in New York City. Every date with Amit seemed to begin with a "Where's Waldo?" puzzle or a hide-and-seek game, which was not pleasant for someone running through the city in 3-inch heels.

After a frantic 15-minute search, I finally spotted the great whale in all its glory. I slowly walked towards the underside of the belly, staring at the whale in awe. Suddenly a blonde, cherubic preschooler beside me began shrieking, running towards the exit of the room. "Make it go away! Make it go away!"

"Come back, Maggie!" shouted a similarly fair-haired woman in her early thirties, racing after her. "You liked Shamu at Sea World! We'll go to the pet store instead!"

I shook my head as I glanced at my watch, noting that it was 2:40 p.m. Amit and I had agreed to meet under the belly of the great whale at 2:30 p.m. I sauntered over to one of the display cases in the room, where I caught a reflection of myself. After seemingly endless deliberation, I had finally decided to wear a black blazer with a sky blue camisole underneath along with my new trouser jeans. I frowned as I wrinkled my forehead. What if Amit had seen me and left because he was disgusted by my outfit? Perhaps I should have taken my dad's recommendation and worn my brown suit.

By 2:50 p.m. I was in near panic. Because of lack of cell phone reception, I resorted to roaming the halls of the museum. Despondent and uncertain of my next course of action, I sighed, heading again towards the room of the great whale. Suddenly I felt someone squeeze me in the ribs from behind.

"Hey!" said a low voice.

I turned around to see Amit smiling at me. He looked fantastic in a thin burnt orange cashmere sweater which highlighted the outline of his toned but not overwhelming biceps. My heart skipped a beat.

"Oh, hey!" I squeaked. "I mean, hey," I said in a lower register as nonchalantly as possible. "When did you get here?"

"A while ago," he admitted. "Can you believe I couldn't find the stupid great whale?"

"Oh really?" I remarked, raising my eyebrows and scratching the back of my neck. "Oh well. Better luck next time." I quickly averted my gaze.

"Do you want to look around?" Amit asked.

"We may as well, since we paid the $20 entrance fee," I replied matter-of-factly.

We strolled through the various rooms which featured such elaborate displays as those of underwater sea urchins and birds local to New York City. Our conversation was intermittently interrupted by my giggling as Amit entertained me with his dry wit. Amit paid the additional admission fee for the special water exhibit. While there, we stopped at numerous stations, each of which was associated with a short quiz mostly focusing on water conservation. I sighed as I answered question after question incorrectly. Much to my amazement, however, Amit earned near perfect scores on all the quizzes.

"Were you a geological engineer in your former life?" I inquired, viewing him with newfound appreciation.

"Well, conservation of resources and recycling are important when you live in the city," he replied as he sat down on a bench. "There are so many people here, and everything is so expensive."

I nodded as I joined him on the bench. In front of us was an enormous window which revealed a view of the west side of Central Park. Outside people were playing frisbee, running with their dogs, rollerblading, or merely sitting on towels on the grass while reading, catching the last few rays of the sun. Well-dressed women with lustrous locks strode on the sidewalk with purpose as they carried large glossy bags from exclusive department stores. Young women in exotic dress pushed double-seated prams holding infants and toddlers.

"I love New York," I commented as I sat beside Amit, both of us staring out the window. Then I shook my head. I sounded like a bumper sticker.

But Amit didn't seem to mind. "Me too," he agreed. "Sometimes I still can't believe I live here."

I turned my head to face him. "Far cry from Troy?" I asked, mentioning his hometown in Michigan.

"Yeah," he answered, seemingly lost in thought.

We continued admiring the view of the city in companionable silence. After a few minutes I glanced at my wrist watch.

"Hey," I whispered, feeling guilty for interrupting Amit's reverie. "We should probably make a move if we want to grab dinner before heading to Brooklyn."

He turned to look at me and smiled. "Okay, let's go."

We headed to a nearby restaurant featuring classic American cuisine on the Upper West Side recommended by my sister's friend Julie.

"I know you have a thing for cabs," I teased after dinner, placing my napkin on the table. "But a cab ride to Brooklyn would be pricey."

Amit grinned. "I suppose we could take the train," he said graciously.

"Take the subway? Are you sure you can handle that?" I demanded, enjoying embarrassing him.

He rolled his eyes, stood up, grabbed my hand, and helped me to my feet. "Come on. We have a train to catch."

We boarded the train at the Museum of Natural History stop for the nearly hour-long ride to Brooklyn. Once we disembarked from the train and exited the station, I looked around, a perplexed expression on my face.

"So where to now?" Amit asked.

"Um," I hesitated. "I think we take a right."

Amit stared at me. "I thought you said you've been to the Brooklyn Academy of Music before."

"I have. I'm pretty sure it's to the right," I said breezily.

"We could always take a cab," he suggested, shivering in the chilly night air.

"Let's just go to the right," I stated, becoming slightly irritated.

Amit smiled. "Okay, if you insist."

"I do," I retorted, clearly exasperated at this point. "I insist."

As we veered towards the right, I impulsively grasped the nook of Amit's right arm and wrapped the scarf around my neck more tightly. I noted my breath assume a formation of a puff of smoke.

Amit squeezed my hand and turned to look at me. "Are you okay?"

"Oh yeah, sure," I mumbled, struggling to speak as my mouth was nearly frozen shut.

A half hour and a few sets of directions later, I finally spotted the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

"Look!" I exclaimed, pointing in its direction as if it were the Holy Grail. "I told you I know where it is."

"Right," Amit chuckled. "Can we go inside now because I don't think that the lack of sensation in my feet is normal."

Once we entered the building, we ascended the stairs to the second floor, on which the cafe featuring the performance space was located. After choosing a table near the makeshift stage, Amit headed to the cafe counter to purchase a few drinks for us. I sat down, appreciating the crowd of mostly twenty- and thirtysomethings milling around the cafe, some sporting trendy attire, others donning chic vintage garb characteristic of the Lower East Side set.

"Thanks," I said as Amit handed me a glass of Diet Pepsi.

"No problem," he answered as he sat down and took a sip of his beer. "So who's performing again tonight?"

"According to the description on the website, it's a folk-jazz fusion band that uses innovative instruments."

"Innovative instruments?" Amit inquired, raising an eyebrow.

"You know," I replied nonchalantly. "Spoons, everyday appliances."

"Like...a dishwasher?" he asked, wrinkling his forehead.

I was silent as I considered this possibility. "Maybe not a dishwasher."

Our conversation ceased as the band arrived onstage. After a nearly 2-hour performance, we bundled ourselves in heavy coats, scarves, and gloves to prepare for the frosty night air.

"Well, that was...different," Amit commented politely as we walked toward the subway station.

"Admit it. They sucked," I remarked bluntly.

"Well, if you want to put it that way," he stated.

I turned to face Amit. "I'm really sorry. The description of the band seemed pretty cool. I guess I should have previewed the music before suggesting we go to one of their shows."

"No worries," he said lightly. "Anyway, it's not where you go. It's who you're with, right?"

"Sure," I responded dejectedly, hanging my head down.

We continued walking in silence, huddling closely to shield ourselves from the cold.

"Why don't we go to Washington Park?" Amit blurted out once we arrived at the station in Brooklyn.

I rubbed my nose against my coat sleeve. "Tonight?"

"I know it's cold," Amit began, "but..."

I pondered the prospect of spending more time with Amit, and suddenly a smile appeared on my face.

"Okay," I said. "Let's go."

We boarded the train to begin the journey back to Manhattan. While on the subway, I recounted stories of my travels to such locations as Central America, Europe, and North Africa.
"The worst experience was when I forgot which hotel I was staying at in Paris when I had decided to scope out the city on my own," I told him animatedly. I proceeded to relate to Amit the way in which I wailed in the back seat of a car with the police, roaming a 1-mile radius from the Gare du Nord from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. "Fortunately I was able to find my way back to the hotel with the help of the police," I concluded, sighing.

"You're so worldly," Amit commented as we disembarked from the train and walked toward the park.

My eyes widened as I spit out the coffee I was sipping, coughing uncontrollably. Amit stared at me with alarm.

"Oh my God! Are you okay?" he asked, patting me on the back.

I cleared my throat. "Oh yeah," I responded offhandly, embarrassed. "The coffee just went down the wrong pipe."

Amit spotted a bench and sat down while I sat beside him. At least a dozen others had braved the cold to stroll in the park, its tranquility a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. I rested my head on Amit's shoulder while he held my hand.

"So how would this work?" I questioned.

"What do you mean?"

"Well," I began, lifting my head to face Amit. "I don't live within a 1-mile radius of you."

"True," he replied, nodding his head and sighing.

"You may have to make an exception to see me and travel outside your neighborhood," I explained matter-of-factly.

Amit looked at me, a funny expression on his face.

"I mean, I live on Long Island, so you'd have to take the train to Penn Station, and then -"

Before I could complete my sentence, Amit grabbed me and gave me a lingering, tender kiss. People continued to walk past us, unfazed by the public display of affection. I finally pulled away, smiling and shaking my head as I realized that I had managed to do the seemingly impossible: to seal the deal.

"What is it?" Amit queried.

I hesitated for a moment before responding, "Nothing." Then I leaned in for another kiss.

Stay tuned for Part V: The Breakup.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Intro Part III: The Pep Talk

That night I finally mustered up enough courage to call Amit. To my pleasure, he seemed delighted to hear from me, stating that he had been planning to call me as well. Upon hearing my suggestion about the marathon date, he readily agreed, intrigued by the concept.

The rest of the week flew by, as I did my best to multi-task during my floor rotation, managing the team as the floor senior, helping the interns with the flurry of admissions, substituting as the PICU senior when the PICU resident was post-call, and attacking sick children by inserting IVs into their veins which they had (un)intentionally removed while asleep. By the time 10 a.m. arrived that Friday, I breathed a sigh of relief, as I had completed my call for the week with a three-day weekend ahead of me.

The morning of the marathon date, the phone rang.

"Hello?" I said in a throaty voice, still in bed with my eyes shut.

"You have a date today, and you're still asleep?" my mother inquired, clearly annoyed.

"It's 8 in the morning on a Saturday..." I replied, yawning, "and I don't have to meet Amit until 2:30."

"Well, I've been up since 6 a.m.," Mom informed me, seemingly quite proud of herself.

"Doing what? Churning butter?" I asked her, snorting.

Mom ignored my comment. "I think you should get your makeup done at Macy's and get a facial," she stated.

I began to rub my eyes. When Mom uses the word "facial," she actually intends to suggest that I undergo face waxing.

"I don't know," I commented, walking to the mirror in my bedroom and staring at my reflection. "I'm not having a particularly hairy day. Plus, I have to go to the library to look up some articles for morning report on Monday, and then head to the gym."

"You don't need to go to the gym. You need a facial," she notified me matter-of-factly. "And that makeup you wear is all wrong for you. You need to wear different colors."

I sighed. "I'll think about it."

"What are you going to wear?" she asked, continuing her onslaught of humiliation.

"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it," I replied.

"Why don't you wear that brown suit we gave you for Christmas?" my father chimed in, picking up the other extension at home.

"Hi, Dad," I greeted him. "What's up?"

"Well, your mother is obsessed with Nancy Grace and the Anna Nicole Smith death," Dad replied with disdain. "Did you even know who Anna Nicole Smith was before she died?" he asked Mom. "God, I can't stand Nancy Grace."

"You watch CNN all the time," she fired back at him.

"You're comparing CNN with Nancy Grace?" Dad shouted.

I rolled my eyes. "Okay, this is really enlightening conversation," I declared, "but I'm going back to bed."

"Don't forget the facial," Mom instructed me.

"And the suit," Dad added.

After hanging up the phone, I lay my head on my pillow again for exactly fifteen minutes until my cell rang a second time.

"Yes?" I answered, picking up the phone.

"Mom wants you to get your makeup done at Macy's and says that you need to get your face waxed," Tina said on the other line.

I groaned. "But he seems to like me the way I am," I pointed out.

"That's not good enough," she stated dismissively. "You need to -"

"I know, I know...seal the deal."

"Exactly!" she exclaimed. "Come on. He meets all your criteria. He's the one we've been waiting for," she asserted passionately.

We? The one we've been waiting for? Who does she think Amit is exactly? The second coming of Christ?

I became exasperated. "I really don't feel like having this conversation again," I informed her, about to hang up the phone.

"Can you just promise me one thing?"

"What?" I demanded.

"Please don't talk about poop," she pleaded with me.

"Is that what you say to your patients?" I queried with a guffaw. " 'I know you came to see a gastroenterologist, but please don't talk about poop.' "

My sister was not amused, as she became silent.

"Come on! Give me a little credit," I said to her, somewhat offended.

"I mean it," she warned me. "I have no idea why you feel as if you always need to divulge information about your bowel movements, but please don't. No talk about diarrhea, constipation, hematochezia, painful defecation, nothing!"

"Okay," I promised, secretly a bit disappointed. "But I personally don't think it's a big deal to talk about poop."

"Yeah...when you're twelve," she retorted, hanging up the phone.

After our conversation, I once again tried to fall back asleep, but I lay awake, staring at the ceiling. I suddenly sat up in bed, overwhelmed with the task I had been given: the task of sealing the deal.

"This is ridiculous," I told myself aloud. "He likes you. God knows why," I admitted, shrugging my shoulders, "but he likes you."

My mini-coaching session completed, I headed to the bathroom to prepare for the day. Yet again my cell rang.

"Yeah, Mom?" I said, picking up the phone.

"I forgot to tell you," Mom related to me. "Don't talk about poop."

I moaned, wondering if I could trade my family in for the Huxtables.

Coming up next: The Marathon Date!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Intro Part II: Sealing the Deal

I walked with Amit through the halls of Penn Station. For a Sunday night, the station was teeming with twenty- and thirtysomethings, laughing and talking animatedly about either their upcoming evening in the City or the day they had just spent there. Much to my surprise, I noticed that we were exiting the train station.

"Where are we going? Aren't we taking the train to Union Square?" I asked, perplexed.

"I thought we'd take a cab," Amit replied, as he was holding his arm out, trying to hail a taxi on 34th Street. "Is that okay?"

"Oh, yeah," I said quickly, as we entered the cab that had stopped at the curb. "I just never met anyone who lived in the City who took a cab in New York."

"Yeah, well, I don't take the train too much," he commented.


"You see, I've gotten my walk to work down to ten minutes," he explained proudly. "Plus, all my friends live within a one-mile radius from me. I literally never have to leave the Financial District," he told me, referring to the section of the City in which he lived.

"So meeting me tonight at Penn Station was quite a trip for you," I retorted, smirking.

He smiled, shaking his head.

Upon arriving at our destination, we stepped into the restaurant, noticing that it was at maximum capacity. If you're unfamiliar with Max Brenner's, every item on the menu contains chocolate. About fifteen to twenty people were gathered at the entrance, waiting to quench their chocoholic desires. Amit gave the hostess his name, and we continued our playful banter as we awaited our seats. Finally she called Amit's name, leading us to our table. I excused myself to go to the restroom shortly thereafter.

Returning to the table, I related excitedly to Amit, "I just saw two people diving into a chocolate pizza!"

"Yeah, I think I'll pass on that one," he remarked, a look of disdain on his face as he reviewed the menu.

"Oh yeah, me too," I stated quickly, burying my head in the menu, trying to hide my disappointment. I guess I won't be having that, I thought to myself.

I decided on a chocolate chip brownie and coffee, while Amit chose only coffee. To my delight, we engaged in great conversation, discussing politics and books, and trading stories about our families. Before long, I looked at my watch and noticed that it was 11 p.m. As I was due at the hospital at 7 a.m. the next day, Amit paid the bill and walked me to the subway station. As I entered Penn Station to catch my train home, I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. I did a little happy dance in my seat in the waiting area of the station, ignoring the woman next to me who gave me a strange look. My cell then rang. I looked at the identity of the caller, and answered.


"So how did it go?" my sister Tina asked me anxiously.

"Well," I began slowly, "he supports Obama."

Tina was silent for a moment. "At least he supports a Democrat," she finally said. As my family and I are from New York, we were staunch Hillary supporters at the time. "What else?"

We proceeded to launch into a thorough postmortem dissection of the date. I can't remember the last time she was so excited, I thought to myself.

"Good work!" she congratulated me. "Okay, now we have to move onto date number two: the marathon date."

"Gee, I don't know," I said skeptically, imagining Amit and me running through Central Park in Adidas tracksuits, water bottles in tow.

"Yes, it's necessary," she informed me. "You have to spend a lot of time with him on the next date."

"Oh," I answered, fully comprehending. "I see what you're saying."

"You have to seal the deal next time," she declared determinedly.

"Seal the deal?" I asked, gulping. "What if I can't?"

"Well, I don't want to think about what would happen then," she replied.

I thought I could hear her shudder.

"I'll talk to Julie," she told me, referring to her friend who was from the Upper East Side. "She knows the City inside and out. She'll be able to give you good options for places to go."

The next few days flew by, as I was spending long hours on the pediatric floor during my floor rotation with the chairman of the department as our team attending. I came home three days later around 7 p.m., exhausted, and sinking into bed. Suddenly my cell rang.

"Hey," the voice on the line said. It was Tina. "I've got Julie here."

"Hi, Mitali," Julie greeted. "I hear date number one went well. Congratulations!"

"Thanks," I stated, smiling, rather proud of myself.

"Okay, I hear you're now ready for the marathon date."

"Yeah, I guess so," I remarked nervously.

"So I propose that you go to the Natural History Museum," she suggested. "They have a great water exhibit there that you can check out. And it's very important that you meet under the belly of the great whale," she added. "You know why?"

"No, why?" I asked, intrigued.

"Because no date that begins with a meeting under the belly of the great whale ends badly," she replied. "David and I met there," she continued, "and we've been together ever since."

"Okay, if you say so," I told her.

"Trust me. I know these things."

"Oh...okay," I said deferentially, impressed by her sense of authority.

"Okay," my sister stated, returning to the phone. "So you've got it? Natural History Museum. Meet under the belly of the great whale. Do you have a place to go for dinner afterwards?"

"Yeah, I think so," I answered, racking my brain to think of places near Museum Row. "And we can go to the Brooklyn Academy of Museum after dinner. They have free performances there every Saturday night."

"See, now we're talking!" Tina exclaimed. "Okay, call him, and let me know how it goes."

"Okay, wish me luck."

"Good luck! Lord knows you'll need it," she muttered.

"I heard that!"

"Heard what?" she inquired innocently. She then cackled, and hung up.

Stay tuned for part 3!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Boston and the Single Girl: Intro Part I

It all started when my dad said to me a few months ago, shaking his head, "I don't know anyone who has dated more than you have." I pondered his comment for a while, and thought to myself that he's right.

I'll be moving to Boston in six days, and my adventures there will be the subject of further entries. But in order for you to appreciate the pathetic nature of my love life, I need to provide you some background information, which I'll illustrate by describing the demise of my last significant relationship. Note that for the sake of anonymity, the names of all my former significant others and prospective suitors have been changed.

In March of 2008, I received a message from a member of the well-known/infamous Indian dating website He described himself as a "tall athletic professional in New York City looking for someone to love and grow old with." Simple enough. He gave me his phone number, and asked me to call him when I had the chance to do so. Thus, a few days later, I called, leaving him a message on his voicemail. I then proceeded to the hospital for 24 hours of call on the pediatric floor, as I was completing my last year of residency. Needless to say, the call was horrific, leading me to quickly change into my pajamas when I reached my apartment the next morning, collapse into bed, and fall soundly asleep. About 5 p.m. that night, I received a phone call.

"Hi, it's Amit," the voice stated hesitantly.

"Oh, hi," I responded groggily. Who's Amit?

"From," he clarified.

"Oh, okay, hey there, hey Amit," I said. Okay, that Amit.

"Is this a bad time? You sound kind of tired," he noted, laughing nervously.

"No, it's fine. I was on-call last night. What's up?"

Against my better judgment, we decided to meet at Starbucks at Penn Station in New York City at 7 p.m. From there, he proposed that we go to the Max Brenner restaurant in Union Square for dessert. I looked at my clock, and realized that I wouldn't have time to shower. Hence, I yanked my go-to black wrap dress off a hanger in my closet, dug through my jewelry for my favorite silver earrings, got dressed, swiped some blush onto my cheeks, and dashed out the door to catch the next train into the City.

Upon arriving at Penn Station, I headed to Starbucks, in front of which I was to meet Amit. Suddenly my cell rings.

"Hey, Amit," I responded cheerily.

"Hey, I'm in front of Starbucks. Did I miss you?" he asked, sounding perplexed.

I looked at my watch, which read 7:15. "No," I stated, "I'm in front of Starbucks. We're talking about the Starbucks inside Penn Station, right? Not the one outside?"

"Right," he confirmed.

We both remained silent. "There must be..." he began.

"Another Starbucks in Penn Station," I said, completing his thought. "I can't believe I didn't know that there's another Starbucks in Penn Station. I've been here a million times."

I frantically began jogging, looking for the other Starbucks coffee shop. The phone rang again. "Hello?"

"Hey, I'm at the other Starbucks," Amit declared.

"Oh, I went to your Starbucks, the first one that you were at," I related to him, shaking my head.

He began to laugh.

"Wait, don't move. I'll go to the other Starbucks again," I informed him.

I proceeded to make the trek to the Starbucks at which I had originally arrived. Where is he? I asked myself, looking around. Could I have actually missed him again?

"Hey," a voice behind me said, as I turned to my right and noticed a fair-skinned, muscular 6'2" Indian man. He wore a huge grin on his face. Oh my God, I thought to myself, I think I've met the Indian JFK, Jr. I looked up quickly, and gave God a silent high-five.

"Hi," I blurted out, laughing, extending my hand.

"Oh, okay, you want to shake hands?" Amit asked me, smiling, accepting my handshake.

"Actually, I just want to get out of Penn Station if that's okay, since I've been here for the past 30 minutes," I admitted. "Whoever thought meeting in front of Starbucks would be such a hassle?" Geez louise!

"Okay," he agreed. "Let's get out of here."

I know what you're thinking, dear Reader. So far, so good. However, stay tuned, for my story eventually takes a turn for the worse.