17 December 2003

My friend Charles’ birthday by Mayouko [麻悠子], Wednesday, 17 December

After my first day of work at my new job, I went to Mayouko’s apartment. She’s wonderful. This is the second time I’ve been to her apartment when she cooked a big dinner for someone’s birthday. She said she’d been preparing all day for it, and the food was great.

There were far more vegetables than I’m used to as either American or Jew. The Japanese food had an interesting meat/non-meat relationship. In the West, meat is generally the center of attention and supplemented with non-meat (e. g., seasonings, sauces, garnish). Mayouko served big slices of daikon [大根] radishes covered with a chicken sauce reminiscent of egg drop soup. She also served an appetizer of vegetables wrapped in slices of beef. Then she cooked for us right at the table. I loved eating her cooking, but I adored listening to her laughter. (You should hear it.)

11 December 2003

Co-op City Jewish Community Council Hanukkah Gala at Young Isra’el of Co-op City

Co-op City Jewish Community Council Hanukkah [חנכה] Gala at Young Isra’el of Co-op City, Bronx, Thursday, 11 December

A neighbor telephoned and tried to “Shanghai” [上海] (his word) me into volunteering at a local Hanukkah party for Jewish pensioners at an Orthodox temple here in Baychester. I had a time!

There was a lot of work to be done, but there were fifteen or more volunteers for fewer than a hundred attendees, and we tried to have a take-charge attitude. I helped to set up. During the affair, a group of Jewish high school students from Riverdale did most of the serving, so I helped fill the platters, although I did later run around serving coffee, hot water for tea, and pensioners’ miscellaneous requests. And of course afterward, I helped clean up, clearing tables, then collapsing them and rolling them on edge and lifting them to the top of the growing table stack.

Well, my experience was quite different from, say, the last Desilicious party (see below). There was a great feeling of camaraderie amongst the volunteers. I was on quite friendly and humorous terms with them, including one (Ronnie from Rye) with whom I danced to the delight of the assembled pensioners and ourselves. A handful of attendees complimented my clothing and dancing, others were pleased I could communicate in rudimentary Yiddish [ייִדיש], and others were just thrilled to receive free food or drink from me. I even enjoyed the şnorers [‎שנאָרערס] who couldn’t wait and complained because they weren’t served at precisely the same time as the first table. One lady, after finishing her meal, came up and asked for seconds by asking, item by item, for another complete meal. When she finished her second meal, she came back up and got a third for the following day, telling me she’d think of me when she eats it. It was a mexaye [מחיה] watching the seniors dancing. I got a free top-notch meal and free mediocre entertainment. And to top it all off, I met two sexy male volunteers, one of whom gave me his telephone number. Hu-ha! [הו־האַ!‏]

Afterward, Lynn Levine the volunteer organizer said she’d never had a better group of volunteers (although she probably says that to all of them).

07 December 2003

Opening night of Desilicious at the Pyramid Club, Manhattan, Saturday, 6–Sunday, 7 December

I braved the snowstorm to have a sort of contradictory time mixing euphoria and depression. The music was fabulous, and there were lots of cute guys there, but they all found it extremely easy to ignore me. I had gone to two prior Desilicious parties at which I fairly easily made friends and dance partners. Saturday, however, was more like the last time I attended a Habibi [حبيبي] party. I don’t understand how someone dressed so noticeably was so thoroughly ignored, but nobody wanted to dance with me for more than a few minutes nor introduce me to any of his friends to integrate me into the socializing. Sadly, I suspect I’m just not good-looking enough for people to even be polite to me or take notice of me when they have the sexy boys on their minds.

I saw someone introducing one of his friends to another, but nobody was willing to do that for me. After a few minutes, all my dance partners found excuses to walk away (or walked or danced away without even making excuses) and leave me alone and friendless on the dance floor.

Case in point: I met a cute man who had moved here from India only a month ago. I actually knew more people there than he, we made conversation easily, and we were both friendless, so I thought we should stick together and help one another out. We danced together near the wall. I suggested we move into the crowd, but he didn’t wish to do so. Soon he was facing away from me and towards a good-looking white guy near the wall. Later, I again asked him if he wanted to dance, but he said he didn’t like the song; soon afterward, a sexy South Asian guy asked him to dance, and he accepted. Because he was cute, he made numerous friends while I spent most of my time by the wall neither talking to nor dancing with anybody. While I was dancing with someone else, he did actually come up and join us, but very soon both of my partners were dancing one-on-one with others, and I found myself alone again (naturally) to retreat to the wall. Despite seeing me alone at the wall, he was later dancing one-on-one with a black man and couldn’t introduce me to him. (I mention the people’s ethnicities primarily to emphasize the diversity of his new friends, to show he didn’t ignore me because I wasn’t of an ethnic group he hadn’t intended to meet. You know, some South Asians will attend looking for other South Asians, while others specifically look for non–South Asians.) When not dancing, he sat or stood around chatting with those he’d met, or alone watching the dancers, but he never came to chat with me again unless I made the first move, nor did he introduce me to even one person he’d met. At the end of the night, he left without saying good-bye to me.

A Gujurati guy I had met at Habibi danced with me for a few minutes, then left me with the excuse he wanted to throw away his bottle of water. Soon after, I saw him sitting on the other side of the room with his water bottle. He had done a similar thing at Habibi, telling me he enjoyed dancing with me and that he wanted to return to his friends. It either didn’t occur to him it might be nice to introduce me to them, or he thought they’d be horrified by my company.

I don’t want to give the impression there weren’t any first-rate people there. For example, a queen named Mohammed [‪محمد] invited me onto the dance floor and danced with me and others. I had fun dancing with a guy named Steve (the above-mentioned black man to whom I had to introduce myself) imitating Bollywood moves. I “re-met” comedian Vidur Kapur whom I’d met at Laffalicious (15 November) and Debanuj Das Gupta of APICHA whom I’d met at the Queer Asian & Pacific Islander Film Series (23 November). And disc jockey Ashu Rai is always friendly to me. I plan to attend again tomorrow; we’ll see if I can get more into the swing of socializing. Wish me luck. (And sorry for the long rant.)