Anjali’s POV – Present Day

I hung up the phone with Tarun cha cha and then continued to mindlessly stir the sugar in my coffee.  For as long as I could remember I always loved the notion of being in love and being with someone who was romantic.  As a young adult, it was always implied by my family that I would marry someone who was Indian.  I would watch Bollywood movies and my interpretation of Indian romance came from the heroes in those movies.  I wanted a good looking Indian guy that was sweet, romantic, and strong and could save you if ever the need arose.  But reality and movies are two different things.  Reality is far from the image that is put into our heads by the movies.  I found that out in college, the Indian guys I met in college really didn’t know how to court a woman.  So my junior year of college an all American boy asked me out and kept asking me out no matter how many times I said no.  I figured why should I date someone who I would never think of marrying.  But, he was persistent, and not to mention very cute.  I finally gave in when he called me a racist for not at least going on one date with him.  He couldn’t believe I was turning him down because of his race.  When he said that, it made me realize what a jerk I was being.  I finally went on that date.  It was a fabulous date.  I learned we had a lot in common – we were interested in politics, social issues, we were both adventure and thrill seekers and we loved to dance.  Each date was more thrilling than the last.  We jumped out of planes, learned to salsa, scuba, found cool underground bands, and stayed up all night talking about the problems of the world we were never actually going to be able to solve.  He learned about Indian culture and other Asian cultures from me.  He had never traveled overseas before and he really didn’t know much about cultures and how different they could be from his upbringing.  The more I shared with him, the more he wanted to learn.  He even ended up taking a few Asian History courses after meeting me so he could understand the region.  I ended up going out with Josh for the rest of college.  He studied journalism and I studied architecture.  Before senior year was up I had a job offer in New York City while he was still looking for a job.  But, he asked me to join him and other friends after graduation to go to travel to parts of Africa and one of the things we would do is climb Mount Kilimanjaro. 

I never told my parents about Josh because I wasn’t sure how they would react and I didn’t know where things were going after college was over.  After going out for a year, Josh told me he was in love with me and I’d fallen in love with him.  Which is the only reason I lost my virginity to him.  In my heart, I was hoping he was the one and that we had a future.  I ended up going to Africa with Josh and our friends for the summer before I started work.  It was an amazing trip. Everything you could imagine adventure, fun, and sex.  We made love in the most exotic places – inside, outside, under the sky, all over.  He was my first lover, and I was his second so neither of us had a lot of experience before each other but it never seemed like that.  The chemistry between us was incredible.  We both learned to explore each other and experiment on each other.  I remember one of the nights camping in the Chawaba Camping grounds near Dar Es Salaam.  It was the first time we made love outside –the hard ground beneath me and the stars and the moon above me.  I could feel the night air on my naked body and hear all of the sounds around me.  I had to keep quiet so the other campers wouldn’t know what we were doing.  The thrill of the outdoors, being in a foreign land, and the risk of getting caught just heightened the experience. 

By the end of the summer I still didn’t know what was going to happen after the trip was over.  A few weeks before my return flight home I asked Josh what next.  He had decided that he wasn’t going back to the U.S. since he didn’t have a job lined up anyway.  He was going to backpack his way through other parts of Africa and see if he could write some stories and see if they would get picked up by any of the papers.  He was going to freelance until he got the job of his dreams.  He told me that I was welcome to tag along with him.  He couldn’t look me in the eyes when he told me.  It was then I understood that was probably his plan all along.  He wanted the freedom to continue his adventures and see the world.  The last thing he wanted was to be tied down and do the standard thing of settling down.  He was adventurous physically and in spirit, I was only adventurous physically.  I was brought up as a traditional Indian girl and it was expected of me that a few years out of college I would marry, settle down, and have children.  I didn’t mind, in fact that’s what I wanted.  I was glad that I had waited until the end of the summer to ask where we stood.  I wouldn’t have enjoyed the trip knowing the relationship was going to end.  I put on my best game face and accepted the end of the relationship gracefully on the outside even though it was killing me on the inside.  I didn’t cry until I got on the plane.  I had an eighteen hour flight to get my shit together before meeting my parents.  I had never cried as hard as I did then.  I had never hurt as badly.  I had been sheltered throughout my life so losing the love of my life was devastating.

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