American girl friend


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1. American girl friend

American girl friend

I am Indian and my name is Suri. I work for the Department of Space and with consultancy on the side, I make good money, a lot of it is in US Dollars. My work involves occasional travel to Europe, Russia and the USA,  so I have no great desire to live there.  I own Bangalore, that’s how rich I am. I really enjoy my life. I am planning to marry, as all Indians tend to do.  At the moment I have rented a single room in Thyagaraya nagar.  I do my own work. I pride myself on the fact that I can cook, and maintain a neat room. I even wash my own clothes. It’s super easy,as I use use Surf detergent powder. Does not require a lot of soap or water.  I pretend that hand washing laundry is super tough. It’s a lot of fun. I am also an actor in my spare time and I am looking for a lady who will play wife. Very hard to find one. No Suri! What about my reputation, they say.  The whole world will think I am married to you.

I enjoy a good movie and I also volunteer to keep the city clean. Many mistake me for a Virgo because I look neat and tidy in my no ironing required clothing, which is suitable for all around the year wear. Therefore I don’t sweat and smell. My one indulgence is perfume and my body releases a nice odour.

I have just returned to Bangalore after finishing my  Masters and have registered to do a Doctorate.  I decide to strike up friendship with some of my work mates.  The coordinator who handles this is a woman.  So I approach her.  My open liner is ‘My wife is the same age as you.’  She cooly ignores me and doesn’t bat an eyelid. I have made it big because I have talent and have reached a position which most people would normally achieve at the age of 40. I am only 27 and look 27.  I bet everyone is commenting on how young I look for my age. :-0

I must admit I am exceedingly handsome.  I am tall for an Indian, 6 foot 3 inches. I approach the lady again and take her phone number. She is staying at a residence for women.  I call her up and tell her I need an introduction to my work mates.  She laughs.

“I was hoping for the same. I know no one here. The people here change all the time.  Only dumb ass students who are in their year 10 , use the desks for study. I am helping them out, along with my regular work. How about we be friends?”

“Done deal I say!” Little did I know then that she was American. She played the part of Indian so well. Blended in really well!

“I have an idea. How about we sit at reception and say Hi to everyone. After all everyone has to report at reception everyday. By the way what is your name ?”

“ Call me Asha.”

“Ok”

I invite her to my place for lunch.  I have a nice lady who is teaching cooking to young girls at my place. They use the kitchen. Another room is used by a 55 year old. He has constant visitors or he is visiting them. They cook plenty and I never lack for food.  I make my own breakfast and so does Uncle as I call him. Everyone calls him that.

I must admit I like my single status. Not really interested in marriage.  Revati, a 16 year old jumps at the chance of cooking lunch. Revati invites friends They are in their teens. Asha, like everyone else, thinks I am married. Good ! I like to keep it that way. I constantly talk about my wife in the workplace, until everyone gets the hint. I am off limits. No match making by well meaning colleagues.  

I love acting. Asha tells me one of the girls in the department needs to be shouted at. Why I ask ?  “She is getting complacent.  I want her to move out of the desk she is using.  I plan to recruit engineers for a job she has in hand. She is renting the premises.  I will help you out with your Doctorate, in return for the favour. I will send her home for 2 months, now that exams are over. Everything is not free in the world and laughs, though some of these students think it is. They come here to eat and chat, some of them.”

I say ok. “I will pretend to shout. A chance to display my acting skills. I am a nice Piscean and am a cool personality. I never lose my temper.”

‘Great!  As long as it sends her home. I have persuaded the others to leave.”

6 weeks later.

Asha “Hi! I was looking for you.You won’t see me for 2 months. I will be in New Delhi trying to get permission for the motel kind of residences I plan to set up. This residence I stay in is lousy. I plan to rent 1 bedroom 1 bath rentals and sublet them out to people who travel and singles and married ones who are away from home. A personality match will be done and packaged meals provided. Why don’t you go into business with me.  I am looking for a business partner.”

I ask how her engineering project is doing. Oh! I just have one more days work on the job. The Manager of the team will take over from there.

I consider it and say yes. I ask the nice lady who cooks if she would coordinate  the activities of the caterers for Asha’s new business venture. She agrees. The Lady’s name is Nagamani. She is wealthy but has been teaching cooking, as it gives her something to do. I also suggest to Asha that we should get a team of Doctors. She agrees that it is a good idea. The banner for the venture is “A home away from home.” 

I suggest Mahalaxhmi Layout and book all the available 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom outlets in the suburb. There is a bus terminus within walking distance and the Mahalaxhmi lay out Temple is famous. A safe place for people to hang out and mingle with decent people. A security fellow is employed to check out the credentials of the people who apply. The response is good.  I move into one of the rentals. It’s part of a larger house designed for rentals.  The landlord live in the main section and his wife manages the business.

Asha is back in town. The permit has been approved.  I ask her what she is doing tonight. How about dinner at a nice restaurant which offers good vegetarian food. She agrees to meet me on MG road.

She asks me to choose the dishes for her. As we order dinner, I ask her where she is from. “Stanley”, she says. Where is that? I wonder.

She tells me Stanley, California and that she is American. She has a working visa and is enjoying her stay here. Her dad’s Indian friend is local guardian. She tells me she is 22 and has a degree in Arts.

She is planning to set up a travel agency and advertise the East as a tourist destination. I ask her if she has considered Indian citizenship. “Oh that ! No I am not eligible unless I marry Indian and I have no intention of marrying anyone any time soon. But with a business visa I can stay here as long as I like.” 

I laugh ! She asks me why I am laughing.  “Oh! I am practicing my laughs for this talk show  I am hosting,” I tell her.

She gives me material that will help me with my Doctorate. A Indian family travelling to India from the USA has brought it and it has found it’s way to her.

I thank her.
She laughs and says “What are friends for. What is your wife like ?”
“To tell you the truth I am not the marrying kind. I can do all the things a wife does and as for companionship I have friends and family here. I am not married.”

I ask her if she misses American food.

She admits she does. I tell her Nagmani Auntie will cook up a nice American dinner for her and that I can bring it over to her place this Saturday. We can go for  a movie afterwards with some of my friends, whom she has already met. The movie has subtitles.

She asks me if Indians Date before marriage. 
I ask her what she means by that.
She says “go out together.”

I laugh. No but they are encouraged to have a lot of friends and usually end up marrying one of them.

Asha says “ How nice.”

“Is Asha your real name ?”

“It is. We have plenty of Indian friends and my Dad liked the name Asha. My American name is Kathryn.”

“You are rather brown and don’t smell of leukoderma.”

She laughs. “I am a brown American. Our family has lived in the USA for generations. I will be leaving for the USA soon. Why don’t you visit me there. You can stay at one of my friend’s place and then move to a Bachelor suite in the student /staff HUB”

“I am busy. My work requires me to stay full on. “
Asha “I will find a fellow for you, who will do the job. I will call you from Stanley, California. We can visit Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, Disney land. I have friends in LA. Why don’t I book a ticket for you along with me.  I can get you a 50% discount on the tickteted price. Bring your mom along if you like. If you like it there I can get you a posting in the USA. My guardian has contacts in New Delhi.”

“That is not necessary” I tell her.  If I finish my work for the next 2 years, I can take 3 months leave. The prospect of visiting the USA again excites me. I have never been to California. I convince my mom who is taking a little time to get used to the idea.

“Is she your girl friend?” She asks

“No Amma, she is American.”

“So ! When am I meeting her ?”

“You have already met her, Amma. You know Asha!”

“Ah!” My mom says

My mom is a very modern lady, for all her dressing in Indian salwars and sarees.  My Dad travels a lot and mom usually visits her siblings at such times. We prepare for travel. We plan to have a friend pick us up at the airport. Kathryn has already found comfortable accommodation in my budget range, a nice warm place, with plenty of fresh air as we are Indians and don’t like air con. I ask her if she would like to stay over when she visits and tell her she will be chaperoned by my Amma.  She is relieved that she doesn’t have to find accommodation.

Kathryn estimates it will take 1 ½ years to get the travel agency going. Raj travels will handle booking flights and she will handle accommodation.  There will a host family and serviced apartments, for those who want to experience Indian life and also for those who want to stay longer. Mind you, its temporary accommodation. I am surprised at how many of Kathryn’s clients are Indian Americans.  I set up a web site with all relevant information for her to advice clients and make travel comfortable.

I have work to keep me busy and we have plenty of friends we want to visit.  She tells me it’s a pity I am Indian, otherwise she would marry me. I laugh and take it as a compliment. There is a family friend’s daughter  I like and I tell my Amma to go ahead and say yes. She is training to be a Doctor and I say, no problem, she can finish her education after marriage.  Amma is delighted.  She likes the girl. She would like anyone I like. That’s how understanding Amma is.  The wedding date is after my return from the USA.  We have already had a quick engagement.  Kathryn is delighted for me. She takes me around California and Amma and I have a gala time. Life from an American perspective. I ask Amma I  have reservations. I ask Amma what would happen if I end up liking somebody more than my fiancé. Amma says love will grow with the years, that won’t happen. My fiancé will be the love of my life. If I have doubts , call off the engagement. I say no, I like Amala a lot. We have known each other for 4 years now.

I have since returned to India and am settling down to married life. Amala is the final year of her Med degree. I receive email from Kathryn that she is dating a very nice guy, an Indian American.  Her travel agency has started making a small profit. She tells me they plan to visit Arvind’s family in October. She has already applied for Indian visa.  Given her circumstances, she is eligible for an Visa. I am looking forward to her visit. 

I decide to have dinner with friends accompanied by a glass of beer.  Amala is too busy and her sister is over to boost her confidence.  I overhear Amala’s sister telling Amala that I am as nice as I am handsome.  Amma’s training, I tell them.

Katherine is visiting us next week. Arvind’s relatives all live in Bangalore. Amala prepares Hi tea for Kathryn and Arvind. Hi tea consists of bajjis, samosas, cutlets, a variety of sweets and cake, chitranan and bisi bele bath.  More like a meal. I know they take their meals at 6 pm. Accompanied by tea and beer if they are so inclined. 

Amala says – she is Kathryn, with surprise, when they are getting out of an auto.  Ssh... I tell her, Arvind may understand Kannada. Kathryn asks me if I like Arvind :-0. I tell her no, she could have done better.

 Kathyrn laughs.  “Oh! Everyone says that. When you get to know him, you will realise he is a very nice guy.”

I insist on their staying over. I refuse to take no for an answer.  The guest room has been prepared and is ready.

Arvind and I get chatting. He works for a software firm.  He says I can find you a job there, if you are interested. I tell him I am doing fine, money is not an issue. I love Bangalore. He says “So do I.”

He convinces us to consider the idea. He can get me a government job, so there will be job security. I am interested. A permanent job in the USA. We can have our children in the US. Maybe even settle down there.

Kathryn comments Amala on her good looks. I must admit Amala looks even more fetching than usual today. Arvind tells us that he is being posted in Sydney Australia for 3 years. Kathryn is all excited. I have always wanted to visit Australia. The food in Sydney is said to be great. Maybe we will get Australian citizenship.  She plans to move her travel agency to Australia. Plenty of travellers from Australia, it being an island country. Kathryn’s and Arvind’s stay extended to a week. We had a wonderful time together. They left this morning to visit other relatives.  I tell Amala that I miss havng Kathryn around.  “Already ! “ says Amala. How about I be your American girl friend.  Here ! How do I look in these jeans ?”   “Where did you get those?” “Kathryn’s gift. She also bought me a couple of other jeans and tops to match.” “You look lovely !” I tell her.   We hug and she plants a proper kiss on my cheek. I feel much better. “They said they will visit before they leave for Australia. “  I nod.

We have since moved to the USA. Kathryn and Arvind stay good friends. It has been 20 years since. Our kids are in University with Kathryn’s kids.  I still visit Bangalore sometimes. Amma and Dad live with us. Amala is still as beautiful as ever and I am still handsome, if I may say so.

************The end***********

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