Friday, February 25, 2011

Dear Neil,

I remember driving down the roads of India with you. I had to really go to the bathroom, but there were still a few hours left until we reached home. You laughed and said, “I don’t see what your problem is. In India, the public bathroom is all around you. Go join that guy urinating against the wall that says ‘Do not urinate here’.”

You were five at that time. We laughed for hours, but I remember thinking: not many kids have such an amazing sense of humor at such a young age. And while there is no dearth of humor in our family, what set you apart from the rest of us was your sense of adventure, your zest for life and your confident and positive outlook.


Bengalis are normally very lazy people and are so scared about everything, including their own shadows, that they rarely get to experience life to the fullest. But you, Neil, you always pushed the limits. You started winning Golf and Cricket championships at the age of seven. Meanwhile, I was still figuring out how to not pee in bed.

And this is why I was always amazed by you. You were fearless: you played like you would never lose; you desired like you would never be disappointed; and you loved like you would never get hurt.


I owe my childhood to you and your sister. I never realized I was an only child because you treated me like your own sibling. And God knows we had enough sibling rivalry between us! Remember that time we were playing table tennis and we got into a fight about who won the last point? Right before the game, we had gotten hot oil massages, so even as we tried to put each other in a headlock, we kept slipping and sliding out of each other’s grasps. Once we realized we couldn’t even stand up without slipping, we each grabbed a tree and decided to stare each other down instead.


Every minute I spent with you was incredible. Screaming down roller coasters; singing Punjabi songs loudly while cruising down empty roads; swimming in the calm Bangkok ocean and laughing while throwing gobs of wet sand at each other, and then yelling curses at each other because getting hit by wet sand turned out to be extremely painful; and then getting beaten up by our parents because we tried to beat each other up!


How about that time we met up at Koeli's place in Florida? You spent hours trying to convince me that there was a possessed stuffed animal haunting the little storage area outside her apartment. And after all that effort you put into scaring me, you ended up getting scared yourself! Yeah yeah, you'll always deny it, but you were supposed to sleep outside in the living room, near that storage closet. Yet, when night came, you quietly slinked into our bedroom with your sleeping bag, claiming it was "too cold" in the living room. Really? In Florida? It was "too cold"? I guess some Bengali genes never go away!

These were the memories that lapped like gentle waves against my mind, as I saw the silhouette of your father drifting quietly in a small canoe, and pouring your ashes into the cool, watery depths of the Bangkok river.

My baby brother, I love you and I miss you. And while my greedy heart always yearns to see you; to touch you; to laugh with you; I know that time always disintegrates the tangible. But the intangible—my memories of you and my love for you— will hold stronger and last longer than time, itself.


Monday, February 14, 2011

I Hate Valentine's Day.

Holidays are supposed to bring everybody together; not exclude a subset of people. Anyone ever heard of the White Supremacist's Day? Or I'm-a-Billionaire-and-You're-Not Day? Or My-IQ-is-Over-144 Day? I googled it and the answer is no. Most of the world is not caucasian, rich or intelligent so we don't need Hallmark to remind us of that. By the way, if you're male and have actually celebrated all three of the above holidays, please email me at I'

So...why do we need a day to divide people into those who think they're in love and those who know are not?

In high school, I remember sitting in the cafeteria with a bunch of my single girlfriends and, as we looked at all the couples around us, my friend said, "Every f*cking year, Valentine's day has to come."

Though I've been in relationships and dates in the past, I've, somehow, always managed to be single through the month of February. Finding, or being in, love for me in February is analagous to getting my tubes tied and then giving birth to Angelina Jolie's adopted Nigerian child: painful, futile, and biologically impossible.

But there was one year--one year out of twenty-five years--that I was not single, and it was February and it was Valentine's day. Let me tell you about it!

I was dating this guy back in college. A few days before V-day, he told me "I hate V-day." And I looked at him and said, "Me too! Gosh, we're soulmates!"

So when V-day came along, we spent the entire day at the library studying electrical engineering and Thevenin and Norton circuits. Meanwhile, all my girlfriends (even the single ones) were getting flowers, chocolates and all this other crap. Finally, at the end of the day, I snapped, turned into a crazy psycho bitch and yelled "WTF?!!! You didn't get me ANYTHING!"
 He yelled back, "I thought u didnt want anything?!"
"That doesn't mean I don't secretly want it you sonofabitch!"

Then the librarian kicked us out into the frigid Pittsburgh winter. It was fantastic.

----- <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------

Indeed, there are V-days that make you realize it's better to be single with a bottle of vodka than deal with the expectation of expecting nothing is going to happen but hoping that something might happen.

So, on that note, here are a few additional anecdotes from my friends about their Valentine's day experiences. Thanks, in advance, to all of them for sharing! (for the sake of privacy and the preservation of my frail friendships, I've changed their names).

Friend 1:

"Jake and I have never had V-day together alone.  Somehow or another its either a blizzard that keeps us apart, or we end up taking his aunt out for her bday - cause yes, her bday is vday. 
And I did the same thing as you in college. This guy I dated said he doesnt get valentines day.  I agreed that it was too commercialized.  Then, i got upset when my sister was getting things and he got me nothing.  He ended up getting me a teddy bear the next day that was marked 75% off - in front of me. So romantic. 
But the best one was the following year, when another guy actually made me buy him chocolate.  Yes, I'm a loser." 

Friend 2 (actually, she's the same as Friend 1 ...I need more friends):

"My friend was telling me how he had to do V-day with his gf the night before the actual date because they both had to study on V-day.
So he called up this restaurant he wanted to go to a few days ago to make a reservation for sunday.  The guy on the phone is like we dont do reservations on sundays.  So, my friend is like, ok we'll just show up there.  So he and his gf get all dressed up to go to this restaurant in the middle of nowhere.  When they get there, they realize its closed every sunday. The reason they dont take reservations on sundays is because its closed! They ended up going to KFC instead."

----- <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------  <3 <3 <3   ------

Alright, enough. Time to end with a famous, witty quote:

"We had a lot in common. I loved him and he loved him."
- Shelley Winters