9/21: Davina's birthday in Richmond - Dallying with Desis.
My friend Davina hosted three birthday parties this year, all fund raisers for the American Heart Association. Since I was going to Williamsburg anyway for Jojo's wedding, I thought it would be fun to attend the function in Richmond, hang out with some of her old friends and spend the night there. Here's the best part: the friends in question are a bunch of Desi kids (Desi means "native" or "of the homeland" in several South Asian languages).
One thing you have to understand about me - I am absolutely terrified of other Desi girls (WARNING: blatant stereotyping ahead). They're slim, they're pretty, they watch Bollywood movies and speak Hindi. Basically they are everything that I will never be, and I know (I just know) they see me a tall, awkward freak.
Obviously, not all Desi girls are like this - my friend Davina being a notable example. But because of my certainty that I would be judged (ironic, no?), I've always stayed on the periphery of the Indian community. I pretend I'm just an observer, lambast them on my blog and show up for about half of the major holidays. This strategy that has worked well so far.
But I recently realized I may be missing out on some good times, as well as the opportunity to meet Nice Indian Boys. So I figured I'd take the plunge, and try to make up for a lifetime of non-involvement in the Indian community. I went out with Davina and her friends, determined to keep an open mind. I will embrace my Desi brothers and sisters without fear and without judgement. I will. I will!
I had no idea what I was getting in to.
The night was actually going well - while the others drink and gyrate, I order soda after soda and flail my way across the dance floor. That is, until someone decides around midnight that we don't need to go home (perish the thought), we need to move to a different bar! Tell me this - have you tried shepherding a gaggle of drunks from one venue to another? It's like trying to eat Jell-O with a fork. We make it to the next place at around 1 AM.
Me: A techno club? Seriously?
Everyone Else: Oooh, I love this song!
Me: Oooh, they have couches!
I promptly curl up and make myself a nest of cushions and purses. At around 2:30 AM, a surly bouncer wanders by to tell me, "You know, you cannot sleep there." It was so Bruce from Kids In The Hall*, I almost die of excitement. Soon after that, it's last call and the establishment has the bad manners to turn on all the lights. Like cockroaches, we little ravers scatter back into the night.
Me: Ugh, what time is it? I smell burning. My feet hurt.
Everyone Else: Let's get something to eat!
The crazy thing is, we are not the only band of Desi kids on the loose - we run into a group of young men, known well by many in my party, who are clearly still in the midst of their revelry. Or possibly high. One boy (5'5" on a good day, smoky eyes and luscious lips like a made-up Bharatanatyam dancer) decides that he wants to pick fights. I decide that it is way past the time when we should be getting off the bloody streets. Yet, 3 AM finds us at the only Mexican restaurant that will still serve rowdy Indian kids at this time of night.
Me (adding extra tip to the check): I am so sorry about this.
Manager: We're used to it. I have the cops on speed-dial.
Me: We'll just ... go now.
We finally tumbled into bed (rather, into bedding strewn across the floor of an unfurnished apartment) at around 4 AM. There was no shower curtain. We might as well have been staying in a cave. I was seriously afraid that I would have to attend Jojo's wedding smelling of sweat and cigarette smoke, after having slept in my clothes. But that's a story for another blog.
You know, it sounds like I'm complaining (because that's kind of what I do). But really, it was an amazing experience. Spending time with Desi kids is halfway between meeting total strangers and visiting your family. We may know almost nothing about each other, but there's this body of common experience that we can all draw from and laugh about. So yes, it was crazy, exhausting, and possibly dangerous.
It was also tons of fun, and I can't wait to do it again.
*"I found no love in the hollowed-out belly of a dead elk. Just warmth, and quiet. But then the questions: 'Hey, why are you in the hollowed-out belly of a dead elk? Are you in there because of love?' And always, 'You know if you're homeless, man, you cannot sleep there.'"