Sanjay Kapoor, 31, an area junior urban planner, was taken aback Wednesday by a call from his parents while he entertained friends.
"The phone rang, and I answered it. The guys were playing dominoes so I just went into the other room. That's when they told me that I was adopted-over the phone! How terrible is that? Wouldn't you at least stop by if you had some big news like that?"
Joe Camozzi, one of the friends playing dominoes in the room immediately sensed tension. "Sanjay, he's a pretty mellow guy so I thought something was up. He was literally as white as a sheet ... he's kinda pale anyway but he looked really pale. So when he told us what was up at first I was like 'No!' And then I was like, 'Wait, you mean this is a surprise?' To myself of course. I mean it's not like the guy's a dead-ringer for his parents, or his siblings, or really his entire ethnicity for that matter. But I kept it to myself, I didn't want to hurt his feelings."
"You know, I just never saw it coming." Reflected the blond-haired, blue-eyed Kapoor, his voice cracking as he returned to the conversation with his parents. "My mom had always told me it was a recessive gene. I believed her. Thirty years later, now I guess I know why Dad always chuckled when I'd be the only one with a sunburn on family vacations."
Reached for comment by telephone, Kapoor's father, Raja Kapoor offered insight to his decision. "The boy needed to be told. We kept waiting and waiting for him to figure it out on his own, but I'm getting old. I couldn't take that to my grave with me. So I called him and told him. It was better to just rip off the band-aid. I should have done it years ago, play pretend time is over."
Although he bears a strong northern European appearance, the 31 year-old Kapoor says he was always more than accepted by the Indian community. "I was co-president of the Bollywood club in high school. We'd have curry nights. Nothing ever seemed out of the norm: not at the dances, not at the parties, not at the family reunions. Although my uncle Sirajoul did always call me 'Whitey' I thought it was just a fun nickname, you know like 'Shorty' or 'Tiny.' I guess I won't make that same mistake again."
For his part, Kapoor appreciates the support of his friends. According to his account, each of the men stopped their game of dominoes and offered condolences when he got the news. "When I told the guys they could tell I was pretty shaken up and Joe just popped up from the table and gave me a beer ... you can't buy friends like that."
Camozzi says it's all part of friendship. "I gave him a Newcastle Brown Ale. We're guys, that's what you do when you get some bad news: have a beer and think about it."
"The beer was good. Although I still do have a bitter taste in my mouth from getting that call. I don't know if I'll ever really get over that." Kapoor added.
Back at his apartment, Kapoor stands over the stove preparing a meal. An avid home cook who attended both the East Indian Club for Boys and Punjabi Pals Summer Cooking and Cuisine Camp throughout his childhood, he is still left with a lot of questions. "I still wonder how they managed to keep it from me for so many years, I mean I really had no idea. I wonder what else they haven't told me. Like maybe they actually all hate my food or something."
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