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October 26, 2007

I Married a Total Stranger

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After our 10-day honeymoon, we were ceremoniously dispatched to Manhattan. My life was packed into six bursting suitcases. When my husband had described our apartment, I'd pictured a life-size dollhouse with separate dining and living rooms, bedrooms, balconies — a tall building with a green garden. Instead, my new home turned out to be smaller than my bedroom in India. The trade-off: From the 40th floor the view was unsurpassable. My husband's American friends called, asking about the wedding and curious to see if I had a nose ring. I was just as eager to meet them.

The next day, my banker husband went to work, and I was home alone for the first time. I eyed his walk-in closet, courageously moving his suits into a smaller armoire. Judging from what remained, I had married an avid golfer, skier, and board-game player. That evening, he moved his clothes back into the walk-in, offering to share it. Still, it seemed I had too many things for the space. My neighbor suggested unplugging the refrigerator to maximize storage (a trick she had used). It seemed extreme, but by the second week, I was considering it. After all, I discovered that New York delivers coffee and anything else, even in a blizzard.

While I craved privacy in India, the lack of neighbors and family dropping in left a shocking void every day as I ate breakfast and lunch alone. My husband worked late most evenings, and I sat in front of the TV, unable to call home because it would be 2 a.m. there.

Being away from India gave us the chance to get to know each other. The first few weekends we spent like tourists — a trip around Manhattan on the Circle Line, a romantic view from the top of the Empire State Building. My husband bought me fashionable, sometimes sexy clothes, and we tested each others' boundaries. We talked incessantly about our childhoods, schools, friends, mistakes, hopes, dreams, and desires. It was just like dating, only we were already married.

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