Tag Archives: Falling in Love

Pretty Woman, Revisited

Since I have “liked” NPR’s fanpage on facebook I usually get updates on my wall of interesting stories they are highlighting for the day. Today one of them caught my eye—and I bet I’m one of the only twenty-somethings out there who would repost a link to a story about Roy Orbison.

I’ve told this story before, but it always gives me a good chuckle. It’s the event that made me start having romantic feelings for P. It’s kind of funny to think that the love of my life may have been spurred on by an unattractive white man with bouffanted hair and dark sunglass, and perhaps a mix up between him and Buddy Holly.

That moment wasn’t my first encounter with Mr. Orbison. When my sister and I were in elementary school my aunt had an audio tape she played in the car that had “Pretty Woman” on it (probably the soundtrack from the movie, it came out around then). For about a year or two, whenever we got in the car with my aunt she would turn the tape on and blast the song as we all jiggyed along. It was probably one of the first few non-Beach Boys songs I knew all the words to and could belt out at the top of my lungs without worry of missing a beat.

(If I may take a 30 second tangent, I was a huge Beach Boys fan as a kid. They were the first band I fell in love with, and I knew ALL their songs. They came to the New York State Fair on my birthday when I was in kindergarten, and my parents brought me to their concert. It was the best thing ever; I was standing on the bleacher dancing and singing all night! I distinctly remember this moment from the concert when the band members yelled out, “How many people out there are in their 30s?” and I jumped up and down cheering with the crowd, “How many are in their 40s?” I kept cheering, “How many in their 50s?” still cheering. I thought I was a party animal. The people sitting next to us asked my parents if they played Beach Boys music in my cradle. I know, I’m a nerd, but I never pretended not to be ;) )

Anyway, before P left for Nepal I made an appointment to meet with the officiant who will marry us at the American wedding. After sorting out some of the details of the ceremony, she wanted to get to know us a bit better, and asked us how we met and then asked each of us when we realized we loved the other. I’m used to sharing stories, but P isn’t really the lovey-dovey sharing type. So I gladly jumped in with the movie/pretty woman story, finishing up with the fact that I am still wearing the same tortoiseshell style glasses (my newer ones broke, and these and my backup pair—I’m been too lazy to fix my old ones, so I’m still wearing the “Pretty Woman” glasses).

She got a huge kick out of it, and asked if it was going to be our “first dance”  song at our wedding. I said no, probably something else. Part of me thinks it would be funny and meaningful to dance to Pretty Woman, but many of the people attending don’t know the story, the significance will probably be lost on them, and they might think its narcissistic or corny or something. But I’ll definitely put it early in the lineup when everyone else is out on the dance floor with us!

So cheers today to Roy Orbison, “Pretty Woman,” and love. Mr. Orbison would have been seventy-five on April 23rd.

(It’s not the best version of the song, but the only one I could find that was decent on youtube: )

In the Rain…

I’m going to piggy back on Gori Girl’s post today. She writes:

Allow me to introduce you to my new favorite artist, Nidhi Chanani. I first stumbled on Nidhi’s work on etsy, which is an online community for buying and selling handmade items. I was immediately in love with her whimsical, joyful drawings. Once I found her personal website and bio I realized why the art brought such a smile to my face – while Nidhi was born in India, she grew up in California, is married interculturally – and infuses her art with the diversity of her life.

So of course, I did “the needful” and checked her out. Although I like more abstract art, I too enjoyed her work.

There was one painting in particular I liked… not only are the figures in the painting the “right” ethnicities (desi guy, gori girl–it would be perfect if they were both wearing glasses!), but it reminded me of a moment in October, seven years ago, when I accompanied P to the campus library near midnight on a windy rainy night. It was the night I was determined to figure out if P actually liked me “more than a friend,” and although there were no secret kisses under the almost leafless trees, it was from that moment on that everything changed.

So here is to rainy autumn nights, burgeoning romances, and special loved ones.

Half-Pakistani on the Silver Screen

I’m always on the lookout for intercultural (particularly Western-South Asian intercultural) storylines. So I was excited to check out a movie that AS and N recommended the other day.

The film is called “Shades of Ray” and features a half-Pakistani/half-white American man who is going through an identity crisis of sorts. The premise of the story is that he asked a white American woman to marry him, and as she delays in giving him an answer his Pakistani father, who is having marital troubles of his own with his white American wife, pushes an apparently Pakistani girl on his son to spare him the trials and tribulations of being in an intercultural/inter-religious marriage.

Besides the fact that “Ray” is played by a non-South Asian (not even half-South Asian) actor which distracted me a bit (I know, its post-modern, anyone can play any part if they can make it believable, but still, it would have been nice), I thought that the movie was entertaining to watch. As Ray grappled with his issues, I couldn’t help but think about Raj, P’s extended relation from “Frank Uncle and the Nepali Wedding.”

Raj was a half-Nepali/half-white American who bonded (much like Ray in the movie) with his wife over the fact that both he and she were from half-South Asian/half-American families. As Raj’s wife told me, “My father is Indian–Gujarati, but my mother wasn’t–she’s Hawaiian. My dad was Hindu and we would do a puja, and my mom was Christian and we would go to church… I was so confused as a kid! Thats how Raj and I bonded!” These types of interactions help me to think about and contextualize my own potential children’s potential identity crises when they are older, and think about the consequences various influences, or lack thereof, might have in their lives.

Also interesting in the film was the portrayal of two sets of “white American moms” in intercultural relationships. Ray’s mom wasn’t interested in assimilating to Pakistani culture, while Ray’s friend Sana’s mom was really interested in the culture. The first time you see her she is wearing a salwaar kameez during the family initiated dinner date. A surprised Ray says to Sana, “Hey, your mom’s white!” and Sana sarcastically replies, “She is?”

Anyway, if anyone is interested in watching the film, it’s short and sweet, available streaming on Netflix, and is a subject you don’t often see in movies.

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

Two traditions on New Years Eve… Watching the ball drop in Times Square in New York City and having a glass of champagne to bring in the new year.

So last night P and I went out with a big group of people to a casino for New Years. Before we left I wanted to buy a bottle of champagne in case we weren’t able to find any later in the evening, but with the chaos of organizing transportation for everyone… it didn’t happen. I wasn’t necessarily gung-ho with the casino idea at first, but once we got there we had a lot of fun– checking stuff out, doing a wee bit of gambling, dinner, watching the ball drop on giant screens in a big buzzing crowd.

Shortly after midnight I was trying to find a glass of champagne to complete the evening but had to leave the casino abruptly when I had to drive someone home (an hour drive away). I told P he could stay, he looked like he was enjoying himself, and there was no need for both of us to leave and cut the evening short. He protested that it was New Years and we should stick together, but I insisted– “stay, I’ll be up when you get home.”

I was pretty mad at the person I was driving back and the series of events that led to leaving the casino abruptly, and fumed the entire way home.

When I got home, I starting watching a movie while I waited for P to get back. He didn’t have a set of keys with him, so I had to open the door when he arrived. He was catching a ride with a few other people in the group. It was nearly four when he got home, and I was still very mad at the person I had to leave the party for earlier that evening. P called me on my cell phone and said he was downstairs, so I put on slippers to go open the door.

On the other side was P, standing in the snow with his arm extended holding a plastic grocery bag, “I’m sorry… I went to four places looking for champagne to bring you, but nothing was open. So instead I brought you a bottle of [my favorite flavor of soda]. Happy New Year.”

That little gesture helped to melt away a lot of my anger. P is not a very verbal guy– he doesn’t say, “I love you” very much with words. But he really shows that he cares with his actions which are very genuine and kind hearted. Sometimes it’s the little things that really make the difference… like looking for something to cheer me up at four o’clock in the morning on New Years.

So Happy New Years P… I love you too… lets hope for a great 2010! :)

Making My Move

Back in September I started writing about how P and I met and starting hanging out but it has been a while since I’ve picked up the thread of the story, so I figured it might be a nice way to return from the mini Thanksgiving hiatus.

After the famous “pretty woman” comment, where we stood (friends, more than friends?) was a bit ambiguous. We continued to study together, go to movies, eat at the cafeteria with groups of friends, but a lot went unsaid. I would later learn that in a lot of ways P isn’t very vocal about things, particularly feelings. Where I often talk too much, he often speaks too little.

Meanwhile, P was pretty popular amongst many of the girls in I-House. He is a very friendly guy, caring and chivalrous; he would do absolutely anything for a friend (even to this day). There was a while where I wasn’t sure if I was imagining his interest in me or if it was real, maybe he was just super friendly to everyone? But I knew I was interested.

What would be a story without a bit of drama? Besides my insecurities about what was actually happening between us, the other major issue was that I was dating someone else.

My high school sweetheart (HSS) went to the same university and also lived in the International House. We began drifting apart awhile before the school year had started, but I had trouble acknowledging this, and felt very loyal to this previous (and my first) long serious relationship. It wasn’t until I met P and became close friends, that I was able to start realizing that the other relationship wasn’t working out, and it took some time to decide what to do. I was realistic though… I was young, and I knew that if I felt something for P, I didn’t want to live life not knowing what could have happened if I didn’t give it a try.

It took a little while to finally break it off with HSS. I remember right after the “pretty woman” incident I was having tea with him and another friend outside the campus bookstore and I mentioned to him the conversation that I had with P the night before. The friend made the typical “ooohhh, scandalous” type of comment, while HSS said something to the effect of, “C has a lot of male friends. I’m not worried.”

Over the next few weeks I tried to mention to HSS that I enjoyed spending time with P, and that I might be falling for him. I tried to be honest, and I tried to spark a discussion, but I think HSS was in a bit of denial. He kept brushing off my comments. “P is just a friend, nothing wrong with that…”, “P is a nice guy, you have lots of nice guy friends, what is the difference?” At the same time I wasn’t even sure if I was imagining P’s interest, and I was worried I was trying to break off this other important relationship in my life for something that didn’t exist.

Finally there was a brief school break. HSS when back to our hometown, P went on a trip to Canada with other international students, and I stayed on campus to work. I found myself hoping that HSS would stay home a little longer and P would come back a little sooner, and that’s when I knew I had to make my move.

When HSS came back to school we sat down and finally  had “the talk.” Yeah, I might have had a lot of “guy” friends, but this was different. I had to have time to explore. I couldn’t live my whole life not allowing myself the opportunity to know what else was out there.

I felt like a huge jerk. I knew I was breaking the heart of one of the most important people in my life, but I felt like I had to do it, I couldn’t keep up the false pretenses. We kept the breakup private… but when you live in a close-knit dormitory like the I-House, rumors and gossip constantly fly.

The trouble was… HSS had lived there a year before I, and was friends with a lot of the other people there, particularly a group of South Asians, including P’s high school friend AC, as well as a very outspoken Pakistani guy (PG). They didn’t really know what was going on, or that HSS and I had ended our relationship, but they knew I was his girlfriend from high school and they saw me hanging out with P a lot… and they didn’t like it (I mean, AC already told P that I was “weird” and “not to bother” with me).

I used to hear all sorts of things, particularly from AC and PG. They were mean in a sly, under-the-table, passive-agressive kind of way. They would make loud comments about “honesty” and “loyalty,” and other stuff like that, they would try to keep P away, and they would say nasty things behind my back. I was definitely cast as the “bad guy.”

HSS was a better person than I probably would have been if the roles had been reversed. He was adamant that we continue to be friends, and he stuck up for me when the others wanted to have a complaining session. We would still have lunch in the cafeteria, which probably only served to confuse the people around us even more.

Anyway, one night I decided I was going to find out if P was serious… I was determined to find out what he was thinking. It was about 11 o’clock at night and I went to his dorm room to chat. He had mentioned that he had to go to the library to return a book (PG was working the circulation desk). It was raining… and I offered to accompany him to the library across campus. As we walked I tried to muster up the courage to just lay it all out on the table, but by the time we reached the library doors I hadn’t really said anything.

We went inside and P gave PG the book. The South Asian guys often ordered chicken wings from a local place for late night snacks, and PG was asking P if he wanted “in” that night. P said sure, and PG told him that he got off his shift around midnight or 1 am, and the chicken wings would come to the I-House around then.

We left the library and P started walking back towards the dorm, but I told him “No… I have something to tell you, and we can’t go back until I say it” so we started walking around the campus in the middle of the night in the pouring rain.

We spent the entire night out there. In true high context fashion, nothing direct was really said, and the two of us skirted around what we actually wanted to talk about. However, I think we both understood, and by the end of the night I realized that it was a done deal, we were going to try this thing out.

We returned to the International House close to sunrise, and I was happy. But P had been missing for the chicken wings… and then it was discovered I was missing too, and the last person to see us (together!) was PG who was already not satisfied with the situation… so we only added more fuel to their “scandalous” fire.

I didn’t care though. I was really happy. I am still really happy. So too bad for the people who wanted to make it difficult in the beginning!

“Pretty Woman”

So what happened in-between eating a piece of cake and six years later? I can’t fast forward through all of that so quickly, but I can at least give you the next installment.

For the first week or two I knew P, I couldn’t for the life of me remember his name. I knew it started with a P, and that it sounded similar to the last name of another Nepali student who lived in the I-House that I had met the year before. I really try with names, because I think they are important, and especially in my current profession of international student advising I have to know names of all sorts, but something about P’s name just didn’t stick. Maybe its a family thing, because later on my mother and grandmother couldn’t do it either. In fact, to this day, both of them still don’t say it right. Anyway, during those first few days on campus most of us referred to P as “the new Nepali guy” (at least when P wasn’t around) so it was easy to not come across his name on a daily basis.

One morning I found myself in the nearly empty college cafeteria and P was the only person I recognized sitting at the tables. I sat with him and made small talk, but it was awkward to sit with him and not properly know his name. If I continued chatting with him, eventually I’d know the guy pretty well and I’d look like an idiot if I had to ask. So I tried to play it real smooth… “we call Abhishek Abhi and Omprakash Om, so do you have a nickname you go by?” he told me, and I quickly forgot it before the end of breakfast. The only name that would stick in my head was the last name of the other Nepali guy that sounded similar to P’s.

Meanwhile P and his friend AC were talking about some of the people in the I-House, and eventually P asked, “What about that C girl? She seems nice,” to which his friend replied, “Ah, she’s just weird, don’t bother with her.” A few days later P and I realized that we worked the same early morning shift in the campus library. I sat at the circulation desk while he worked in the interlibrary loan office. That first morning he walked in I gave him an enthusiastic wave and he thought to himself, “AC is right, she is weird.”

Yet regardless of my naming issues and P’s friend’s discouragement, we became fast friends, and started studying in the I-House computer lab quite frequently in the evenings together. I remember being very studious back then, in part because I  enjoyed spending time with him. I use to teach him phrases in French, and he would write down some stuff in Nepali. We were dorky, but had a good time, and never really thought of each other as any more than friends.

S takes credit for our relationship based on his movie initiating a change in our "feelings" for each other

S takes credit for our relationship based on his movie initiating a change in our "feelings" for each other

Then one night, as our dear friend S likes to take credit for (yes, the same S of momo fame), things started to change. S had somehow come across a DVD that he thought was really good back at his school in Maine and assumed that P would like it too. To my knowledge, I think this is the only time that S has done this, but he mailed P the DVD, and P decided to show it one night in the I-House lounge. The movie, “East West,” was half in French and half in Russian. P mentioned the movie in passing and asked if I’d like to watch it due to my interest in French. As with most random I-House movie screenings, the movie started with about four people on the couch but ended with half a room full of people sprawled out all over the place.

Once the movie was over everyone filed out of the room–P and I just happened to be the last two to leave. We were chatting while walking down the hallway. It was a weekend, I hadn’t really showered, and I was disguising my somewhat-too-greasy-hair with a handkerchief. As we walked P said, “why do you wear that thing on your head?”

Me: “Well, I’ve been a bit lazy this weekend, I need to take a shower and I’m trying to hide it.”

P: “Oh… well I think you look fine… actually do you know what song I think of when I see you?”

Me: “Um… no…”

P: “Pretty Woman…” awkward silence… “I think it’s the glasses…”

Me: “But Julia Roberts doesn’t wear glasses in that movie…”

P: Confused look, “oh, okay…” and we both turned around and went our seperate ways.

Roy Orbison or Julia Roberts? Either way, it got the job done...

Roy Orbison or Julia Roberts? Either way, it got the job done...

Little did I know P was making a reference to Roy Orbison the singer of “Pretty Woman.” He was known for wearing dark sunglasses, which I never wore, but I think maybe P was confused with Buddy Holly or some other random 60s singers who wore thicker rimmed tortoise-shell glasses. I wore glasses at the time (and continue to wear a similar style) that had a retro tortoise-shell type of look. Roy Orbison is actually not very attractive, and perhaps if I knew what P was talking about I would have been a little confused or even offended. Instead it planted a seed in my head… why would he say such a thing? Does he have feelings for me? Why would he put himself out there if not to let me know he liked me?

Poor P, he wasn’t used to an American girl’s way (or at least my way) of over analyzing these kinds of things. In fact he was just making an innocent comment, even if it came across a bit corny and romantic, he assures me that at the time he didn’t actually think of me as more than just a good friend. Yet from that moment on my approach to him was based on my perceived interpretation of his feelings for me. Instead of me reacting to his pursuit of me, I actually started pursuing him all on my own!

…and, what South Asian story about “Pretty Woman” would be complete without a link to the “Kal Ho Naa HoBollywood movie scene of Shah Rukh Khan singing a Hindi version of “Pretty Woman”??? At least the “pretty woman” (Preity Zinta) in this song is also wearing tortoise-shell glasses! Enjoy…