Party Tonight

Saturday was hectic.

I showed up for the Women For Obama rally at noon: Columbus Circle. It was great to see Anna again.

"Hey, I have not emailed you yet, but I am going to," I said to her after tapping on her shoulder.

It was a great rally.

It has been amazing to watch the Obama 2008 operation grow in New York City. I have pretty much watched it since day one. There is no strict hierarchy. Many organizations and committees have sprouted up. Leaders have emerged. Crowds have grown and grown some more.

I met some Indians. When you meet Indians, you get reminded what you look like.

"I came all the way to New York City, and still I mostly end up meeting white people. We should figure out ways to meet more often," I said to the Indian women at the rally after it was over.

One said she was married. Another said she was a "trite Indian doctor." She said she was taking the train to Long Island a little later to meet her "in-laws."

"You are married?"

"Yes."

Just then this young woman approached me. She handed me this really pretty, colorful postcard. It was an invitation to an event on Thursday.

"Is this a DL21C event?" I asked.

"No. This is not a DL21C event. This is a Planned Parenthood event."

"Hmm."

"But their women's committee people are going to be there."

I don't know about that committee. They never jumped onto the 2.0 bandwagon.

I decided I was going to show up. I have been curious a long time as to who the women politicians in the city are. I know one: Jessica. I mean, I know of her.

Politicians in this city are white guys, and black guys, and some more white guys and black guys. Women are few.

I met her last at this event with the Washington state Governor. She looked kind of familiar but I was not so sure. I asked her if she was with the Governor, and she said no. And then she got introduced and I realized.

If I get to talk to her, this is what I am going to say.

"Jessica, I hope you forgive some day, but I gave about two hours of my time to Cesnik when he ran against you. He was a Dean 2004 person, and I was a Dean 2004 person, and I met him at an event. But I look forward to seeing your career unfold."

Nina was shopping around a party she was throwing later in the evening somewhere in Chelsea trying to get as many Obama people to show up as possible. I asked her the precise location for it. She said go home and look it up online. It was a sublime moment of Indian self hate.

After the rally, I took the train to Washington Square park. There was supposed to have been some small event there. But I did not find it. The next event was Times Square, 4:30. So I decided to go to Chinatown.

I like the Chinese. If you are in Nepal, you have one option, and that is to be friendly with the Chinese. But if you like the Chinese in New York City, that is an act of free will.

I bought a watch for five bucks.

After I put it on, I asked the guy, "Is this waterproof?"

He burst out laughing. "For five dollar you want waterproof?" His eyes squinted further.

There was an Indian who looked like worked at the same shop.

"You from India?" he asked. It was not curiosity. It was an act of bonding.

I was not dressed right. Underdressing is Britney's thing to do during summer, not Paramendra Bhagat's thing to do during winter. I did not have my woolen cap, not my woolen socks, no woolen scarf around my neck.

I walked inside a noodles place. I wanted dumplings. No dumplings. They gave me something that looked like dumplings, but were rice cakes.

The event in Times Square was the most boisterous visibility event to date I had been to. There were about 200 of us. Next to us were about five Hillary people. And I was wisecracking about them most of the time.

"Did you notice? There are like f-i-v-e Hillary people over there."

The line always got a laugh. We were scheduled to be there from 4:30 to 7:30. Towards the end I realized as our ranks went down in number, the Hillary ranks gradually swelled. MTV might have arranged it that way. Civil wars are for Kenya, not America.

"So, Mikie, you think Harlem can do 80% or more on the 5th?" I asked.

"More like 99.9%. You know who that one person voting for Clinton is gonna be: Charlie!"

Half way through Barack showed up on this huge screen across the street. That gave me another line that I delivered upon at least two dozen people.

"Do you think Barack can see us?"

I also met a student called Hillary who was an intern at the downtown office.

"You spell it the same way?" I asked.

"Yes."

"So you are Hillary For Obama."

"Yes."

I made two trips to the 99 cent pizza place on the 41st and 9th before the event was over. The pizza did not taste good. That was a warning sign. I was falling sick. But I told myself I was just maybe not hungry. The cold was getting at me. I also made two trips to the nearby Toys R Us store. The founder of that chain was the primary investor into the dot com I was one of the founding members of in 1999. I also made one trip to the Starbucks, just to sit down for a little while.

Wait a minute, it was not Toys R Us, it was the Zany Brainy dude.

I knew of a Desi party that started at nine: Leela Lounge, 1 W on W 3rd St. I was interested in going. I showed up right on time. This was an Indian place, Indian food and all that.

I checked in, and then I gravitated towards this circle. I was surprised they were eating full fledged meals. But I was impressed so many Obama Indians had showed up. I sat down and introduced myself to two people. Then I looked around. I waved at one or two people who looked at me.

As the small talk rolled on, I came to realize this was not the Obama crowd.

I begged off. It was somebody's birthday party. One or two women who looked at me curious must simply have been amused. "Maan na maan main tera mehman." (You like it or not, I am your guest.)

I joined the then thin Obama crowd that grew over the hour. I met a white guy from Ohio who followed his college sweetheart to Mumbai where he works a local job on local pay for Rediff, our primary competitor with that 1999 dot com. "Yes, I ride the trains."

He told me of the anti-black sentiment in India. He said two Kenyans got thrown out of a restaurant in Mumbai. They were refused service. He said of another time, there was this black guy in this train, and trains in Mumbai are packed affairs, and it was like he was in a phone booth. Everybody had just stayed away from him, kept their distance.

Racism is wrong no matter which angle you come to it from. India has its many social ills. But an India that can not see an ally in Africa is an India that will not become a superpower.

For me taking pride in India, its heritage and its possibilities, and totally denouncing its social ills are no contradiction. They go hand in hand.

I met Assem Chhabra. I said, you know, I remember you from somewhere. It was from SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association. He knows some top journalists in Nepal. He writes a column for the Times Of India on the US election. He got me to read an article of his on his handheld that was set to be published the day after.

After an hour, I begged off. I said I was tired after going to a few different events.

I came home and went straight to sleep. I just felt so tired.

The following morning I woke up sick. I decided I was going to wait out this bout of sickness in bed. I knew where it was coming from. I knew it was not anything serious. But there were small stretches of time when it felt like pain. By the time the bout was over, I must have lost track of time, because I showed up at the Tonic Monday evening for Arthur's party scheduled for Tuesday evening. I had not been sick as long as I thought I had been. But my falling sick proves I have been absolutely dispensable to the Obama 2008 operation in NYC.

The waitress who told me it was Monday and not Tuesday yet gave me a mischievous smile. From there I decided to walk over to pay homage to the Empire State Building. How do you pay homage to the Empire State Building? You go stand right next to it, and then you look up.

That is the grassroots way. The only person who is indispensable is The Leader. The only thing indispensable is The Message.









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