Showroom of Perfection DAY ONE Chapter 35

22 03 2011


Aroona races in her black SUV (I never bothered to look at the make of it), honking and swerving, flying over man-sized pot holes and chasing skinny cows out of our way. She slides into the International slice of airport and screeches to a halt. As soon as I open the door of her air-conditioned monstrosity, the 120-degree heat engulfs me like a hungry mouth. We drag my suitcases to the entrance of I-Don’t now what Airline and the door swooshes shut behind us.

It is much cooler in here, of course.

“Be safe, my love”, she coos, before she turns around. I get into a line of hundreds of sweating travelers, snaking in roped up lines up to security.

“Please don’t leave yet,” I beg, terrified of spending my first minute in this country without her experienced protection.

“You’ll be fine, babe. Just drink water and relax”, she says, clearly wanting to leave.

We’ve spent 14 days together. In her SUV and in her factory. The only times I’ve been by myself were inside the hermetically sealed room of the hotel. Everything else, I experienced through the tinted windows of her car. Safe. Safe enough to take pictures of beggars and cows and rikshas and wondering people in colorful robes and saris.

We’ve been to clubs and restaurants in ice-box like malls where the electricity goes out twice an hour. I’ve learned that my blackberry is a lighting device and that the electricity always comes on again.

“Remember the big ball you will have to push uphill once you get back”, she giggles, but we both know that this is not a joke.

I stand in line in a strange country and I’m in a cold sweat panik. I will miss my flight. There is no way to get through security in less then 20 minutes. I pull out my i-pod and check for the movies I planned to watch during the 20 hour flight. My i-pod is dead. I shake it. I unplug it. Damn technology. I stuff it back into my purse.

A black eyed security guard who looks like Omar Sharif points to me. He smiles. I smile back. He points to the top of the line and winks me over. He’s going to rape me. He’s gong to throw me into a New Dheli prison and I will never see my daughter again.

But he makes his way over to me and pulls me out of the line and leads me to the security check point.

“Have a nice travel”, he grins and I’m in. I get on the flight.

The stewardess brings me a tray with food. I am hungry and I bite into the sandwich. I always liked airplane food. I eat the sandwich and open the container with the dessert. But, damn, this is the strangest sensation, I realize I’m not hungry anymore.

The dessert, some sweet Indian riceball floating in honey syrup calls out to me. But it has no power over me. What the hell is happening to me? I push it away. The stewardess comes by again and I ask her to take my tray. I lean back and drink a mini bottle of water. I am about to get up. But I don’t. I just sit there and feel the sandwich in my stomach.

It wants to come out. My body is not used to keeping food inside. I feel dizzy and nauseous. I get up and make my way to the bathroom. I sit down and pee. I wash my hands and return to my seat. That sandwich stays inside me. My stomach revolts and cramps. I lean back and close my eyes. I fall asleep.

When we get to Chicago, I am hungry again. It’s been 16 hours since the sandwich. I buy another one and a container with yoghurt to calm my belly. I eat it and get on the plane to LA.

By the time I get there, I feel so sick that throwing up seems the only way to feel normal again. I lean against the door of the bathroom stall and force myself to breathe slowly and even and I calm down enough to get my lagguage and make it to the limousine (courtesy of my “husband”) that is waiting for me.

Back home, in my shitty South Pasadena rental with the cottage cheese ceilings and the nasty white carpet floor, I unpack and call Philippe. I take a shower.





Philippe and William yell at each other when I unlock the door to our design-loft. They stop only long enough to watch me dragging in the suitcases from the lobby, then they go right back to their fight. William is drunk.

I hang my samples on the grid and William smiles. He touches my face and drooles “That’s my girl. That’s what we needed. I love you”

Philippe pushes William into the wall and wrinkles his nose.

“That’s it?” he asks, “That’s all you have to show for? This is very disappointing”. He digs in his nose and pulls out a brown bugger and flips it in the direction of the floor, but it gets stuck on his grimy orthopedically correct office chair.

William takes another swig from his kosher wine bottle and sobs: “See what you have done to me? To my family? To Philippe? You have ruined our lives.”

I am used to those scenes and until now, I would go downstairs, stuff my face with 7/11 muffins and Mars bars, throw it all up and deal with it. But now? No way.

“You know what?” I say calmly “I don’t want to work with you anymore. You owe me a lot of money that I’ll never see. So I’m gonna take those samples and that’s just it”

“Don’t you dare to leave us” William shouts. “Don’t you dare walk out with this stuff. It’s not yours. We paid for your trip”

“Don’t worry, William, she’s not gonna leave. She loves us. We are family, aren’t we, Monah? We are family!” Philippe smiles at me “This stuff is good, real good, let me take it over to the showroom right now.”

“No” I say as I take my Indian creations off the hangers and fold them into a neat pile. There is a black Barney’s bag on my desk, almost large enough to fit everything into it.

“I am done with you. You can take me to court if you think you have a chance. Good by”

As soon as I’m I my car, I start to shake. I can’t believe I’ve grown a spine. I pull out of the garage and drive home.



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