fiscal austerity, y tho

As a matter of principle I never go out drinking with people from work, because work is all we end up talking about. Such a waste of beer.

But once in a while I make exceptions to this rule, like I did last last month. Post exception I always regret.

Colleague who is a ‘VP grade’ desi WhatsApp’s me, “Bhai let’s go to pub cxyz in Harrison for drinks.”

I’m like, weird flex but ok.

Also, he’s a VP.

I don’t quiz him on the motivations behind selecting this bar because I’m thinking: since he pick, he pay.

In retrospect, it makes no sense to journey from Manhattan to Harrison,NJ for beers at a bar. If he’d said beer, persis biryani and patel brothers it would have sounded plausible.

Anyhoo we meet up at the WTC Path Station and head off to good ol’ Harrison. I’ve been to Harrison only once before. And that was way back  in 2009 when  I accidentally got down from the PATH train assuming it was my stop. The then girlfriend did not. Stand clear of the closing doors. So it goes.

The bar, The beer, The bartender – none of them are worth musing about.

The Budweiser was stale. The barkeep was hairy. The bar was airy.

I couldn’t hold back my righteous indignation any longer,”Why THIS bar…Bruh?”

Background: The VP is older than me by 10-15 years. Arrived in the USA via the 1997 wave of f1-h1b visa trapezers. Married. Has two kids. A cat named Shaktimaan (don’t even ask.) A Tesla. Lives in a two bedroom co-op in Manhattan on the west 90s’ and Riverside Drive (as per some accounts Tina Fey lives in his neighborhood). Basically, our guy has all the trappings of a successful NRI.

He replied, “They have a good happy hour. $4 beers, $5 cocktails, $3 samosas. Also the availability of  $2 paan and $1 goldflake in the shop down the street.”

my inner monologue,’THE FUCK BRO.’

“OK COOL. YEA..that sounds like a good deal…HOW DID YOU EVEN FIND THIS PLACE MAN?”

“ friend’s cousin’s son is pursuing a Masters at the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate and lives around the corner from here. I ran into him recently at a family Diwali party and he told me about this I decided to check it out, to see if it’s really that cheap.”

inner monologue,’MOFO.’

additional inner monologue,’and why the fuck did he pick ME to come all this way with him.’

VP : “Really cool na..”

“ bet.”

We get plastered on $4 beers, $5 cocktails and $3 samosas and talk and talk about- RGV’s Satya vs AK’s Black Friday. Bollywood’s #MeToo movement. Deepika’s upcoming nuptials. Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion on District of Columbia v. Heller.

When the bill arrived I expected he’d reach for it with a flourish and say something like, “Thanks for coming dude…this was fun.”

Instead. . .  “Are you on Venmo/Google pay/Splitwise ?”

“None of those. Only paypal or Zelle.”

“hmmm…I’ll figure something out tomo. For now let me take care of this..anyway it’s only $70 for all the drinking and eating we did..haha so cheap na..”

The floor is lava and we are sauntering down the road like tumble weed… I see him pull out his phone and am expecting he will call an Uber (pool  at least!) for us. Instead he says, ‘oh nice the next PATH train to Manhattan is 23 minutes away..we can easily make it.’

“Dude we are really really plastered…I don’t think taking the train in this state is a good idea. Call an can afford it LOL.”

inner monologue,”MOFO makes $450K..I know this because he is  listed in the p(VII) sec.(A) of the 990s”

“I know I can afford it…but you can take me out of Mumbai but not the middle class out of me haha..come let’s walk. your step..there are needles over here.”


Finally when I get back home at 3 AM the missus asks,”So… did you Boys have fun ?”

“He did.”

i exist due to a prank call

Over the weekend I spent some time in Rochester with a PhD. pursuing fellow. After downing few mugs of ale he told me the quirkiest tale of how his parents met.

Take over from here pursuing PhD. in Imaging Science (PPIS) guy ..

So my mother and her younger sister (my chinna amma) had gone to see a Kannada movie. Because, Kannadigas fam.

(The year maybe 1988)

They bought the ticket in the women’s only queue. It being a matinee show on a weekday, the line was very anemic. Tickets secured, they roamed around the movie hall in pursuit of a timepass.

They stopped at a tea stall inside the perimeter of the venue; grabbed a chips packet and two bananas. While paying for the goods the sister’s eye fell on the classifieds section of the day’s newspaper discarded on a bench. A naughty idea took root.

They flipped over to the ‘Brides Wanted’ section. They giggled at the outrageous listings and began prank calling each advertiser “I have the perfect girl for your Son/Brother/Father…they’d proceed to mumble something about stars and planets then quickly hangup.


They made some 20 or calls before it was time for the movie.

In the evening back home after the matinee the girls ran into their father (my grandfather)  who quizzed them on the plot and songs and fights and costumes and sets. After truthfully answering all his questions they also told him about their little prank.

The father ‘the ever let’s get her married’ type instantly perked up. He asked them, “Were there any Reddy matches in the numbers you called?”

“hmmm..maybe one..I’m not sure..why?”

“only one Appa..” the sister interrupted.

The father walked away to get his own copy of the day’s classifieds.

(This being 1988 there were like maybe two newspapers published and everyone in town subscribed to both.)

On locating the profile of interest, he underlined the details and on an auspicious day called the contact number. Seeing as to how evenly matched all the required criteria on paper was; the guy’s side consented to a meet and greet.

The funny thing is, in those days rental cars was not yet a business, so it was hard to find a car just in time for a ‘sight-seeing-day’.

sight-seeing-day? like picnic day?

Yes. So you see the way my paternal grandfather planned it was..suppose you were able to book a car for Sunday October’d give different time slots to different families on when you’d arrive for the meet and greet.

9 AM – 10 AM – Girl 1 in  Malleswaram.

30 minutes driving time

10.30 AM – 11.30 AM – Girl 2 in Banashankari.

so on and so forth.

WHAT? That’s like UBER Eats or something.


So my dad and mom had their meet and greet at 3 PM..which was the  last sight-seeing of the day for him, because the rented car and driver had to be returned at 4 PM. The planetary  positions also were scheduled to change after 3.30 PM.


And what?

They liked each other.

The families liked each other.

Smiles everywhere.

They all drank filter coffee and ate mysore pak.

Everyone shook hands and nodded heads.

A date was set.

They got married.

I was born.

—- did you meet your fiancé ?

We were classmates while pursuing Masters.

So not a story like your parents?