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There's a knock at my door, Chamber One of the hotel's business center, where I spend hours each weekend, transferring my notes of the week to my online journal that I'm sharing with my management.
"When are you leaving, Ma'am?"
"When do you need me to leave?"
"No, I mean, when are you leaving the hotel?"
"Oh, we're trying to leave on the 1st, but maybe not till the weekend. We can't move until then."
"You're staying in Bangalore?"
"Yes, for six months. I'm on assignment for work." Her face brightens, I suppose because I'm staying in the country for some time, rather than jetting in and out like most of the guests here.
"I'll miss you, though."
"Do you have an e-mail address? Would you like to keep in touch?"
We exchange addresses and I shake her hand.
"Are you doing some research?" she asks.
"Sort of. Yes. I'm living during the week and then re-living my experiences by writing about them, and sharing them with my management, so they can understand the reality here better."
"Like a diary?"
"Yes, exactly, but one that I'm sharing."
"I worked for HP while I was in Aviation School, since the classes were only a few hours a day, and I earned much more than I earn here, but I needed hospitality industry experience to get a job as a flight attendant."
"Well, this is the best hotel to get it in."
"Which airline do you want to fly with?"
"British Airways or Qatar."
"Yes, Saudi Arabia is the cheapest place to live, and you can make the most money there, and they respect women there."
"I didn't know that it was cheap to live there."
"Yes, my first choice is British Airways, but they focus on color, and even Kingfisher does." Is she talking about her complexion?
"Do you mean your complexion?"
"You're kidding. You're gorgeous -- I first noticed when you talked with me about the diamond earrings -- and you're gracious, and those should be the criteria."
She smiles and her dimple shows. She is standing up straight, maintaining her dignity while I stare at her trying to sustain my incredulous expression, even as I reason in my head that I'm not surprised, given all of the skin-whitening face-cream commercials I hear on the radio and see on TV...."With Pond's...you'll never need to find your love on the Internet anymore!"
"Then I think about how," she says, "Oprah Winfrey is the highest-paid woman in the world, and I keep thinking about that."
"You've inspired me." I want to tell her that I'm a lesbian and I understand prejudice, but I remember that we're not telling anyone in the hotel explicitly, and so I say instead, "I'm Jewish and some people don't say good things about Jews....I have to find the Jewish version of Oprah Winfrey."
She graces me with an extra-deep-dimpled smile as both of us are trying to imagine a Jewish Oprah Winfrey and says, "You have to know a person before you can judge the person....Fame and Name, I say. It's not enough to have one or the other."
"I like that -- Fame and Name." I wonder where she picked up the phrase. I feel like I should have heard it before, but maybe it's her own slogan after all. "Please do send me a note when you get the flight attendant job you're dreaming of."
"I will, Ma'am."
As she shuts the door, I write her e-mail, thanking her for the conversation and letting her know that when she becomes the next Oprah Winfrey, I'll be able to say I knew her when....