Friday, August 10, 2007

Sarah and Desh

Some good news: My daughter Sarah recently announced her engagement tho her longtime boyfriend. She'll be a graduate student and a teaching assistant at the University of Maryland, while he works for Freddie Mac in northern Virginia. They've found an apartment in Washington, D.C., near K Street (next door to lobbyists?).

They met on a train in the spring of 2003, just after Bush invaded Iraq. I was there, so I'll tell the story. Sarah was a high school senior, and she and I were on the way back from a visit to Hollins University, just outside Roanoke, Virginia. We had turned in our rented car at Staunton (prnounced Stanton), Virginia after visiting the school. (Sarah spent one year at Hollins, but then transferred to Knox College.) It was a strange time, when much of America gung-ho for the war and angry with France for opposing it. A roadside restaurant in Staunton advertised "Freedom Vanilla" ice cream to go along with the more famous "Freedom Fries."

Amtrak's Cardinal, so named because the cardinal was the state bird of all the states it passed through on its original route, was not terribly late that afternoon. We found seats together and settled in to watch the beautiful countryside of western Virginia roll by. At Clifton Forge, the train stopped for a crew change and to give the smokers a chance to for a fix. Sarah looked out the window and said, "Look at those hot Indian guys." One was having a smoke, while the other was keeping him company. Whether Sarah would have gotten to kinow Desh (the nonsmoker) would have been unlikely had not a boulder fallen from a mountain just outside a tunnel. It wasn't on the track, but it was so close to the track that moving the train might be dangerous. We were delayed until maintenance crews from the CSX railroad declared it safe to proceed slowly by.

Up at the head of our coach, a middle-aged woman, who was probably a flower child in her younger days, had a guitar, and was softly singing folk songs. Sarah gravitated up there, and it turned out that the two Indian men (the smoker was actually from Bangladesh) were up there too. Desh was from Bombay (like a lot of people from that city, he called it Bombay, and not Mumbai, the official government name) and was getting an MBA at the University of Maryland. They were heading for Cincinnati, to see a cricket match.

By the time the train finally reached Cincinnati, Sarah and Desh had traded e-mail adrresses, and began a relationship that's going on for more than four years. They'll probably have two ceremonies--one in India, probably in January, and one in the States.


Stacey said...

Hey, thanks for reading my blog! Can I talk to you about St. Luke's by email? Also, I read you are moving back to Philly, is that right?? I'd love to meet you and your wife. Maybe you can come back to St. Luke's!


steve said...

Thanks for commenting, Stacey. The column you refer to was recycled from 2003, so it referred to that year. Sometimes i wish I could get back there--especially to St. Lukes's. I hope to visit sometime, though,

Stacey said...

Ooops, I misread.

Do you go to church where you live? What's it like?

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

[The comment, now (I think) free of typos.]

Hearty congratulations!

You might have subtitled this post, "On the Slow Train."

Sustenance Scout said...

Steve, I agree with Peter! What a terrific coincidence that they met on a train. Looking forward to hearing about both ceremonies. Congratulations all around, and thanks for the Abe Lincoln history lesson. Fascinating! Wouldn't it be wonderful to somehow have an audio recording of that speech. K.

steve said...

Thanks, Peter and Karen. I thought about you, Karen, when I was writing this. Though theirs will not technically be an interracial marriage, it will perceived as such by many, and they'll face many of the same obstacles. I've already had to tell people that Desh is a fine man and that I'll be happy to have him as a son-in-law.

Tea N. Crumpet said...

What an amazing story! That boulder there-- can you imagine the guardian angels meeting up and being like, "They aren't talking. She saw him but they haven't met."

"OK, well, how do we hook them up? [scans area] There is a boulder up on that ridge. We can push it down and hopefully it will land near the tunnel and stop the train for a bit. . ."

"Ah sugar! Will it land? Close. Whew!"

"Are they talking yet?"

"HOOK! Now for the hard part. . . OK, they exchanged email addresses."