Summary: Mohinder finds adjusting to life in New York City is not as easy as he thought it would be. A chance taxi ride with a stranger makes him deal with his homesickness and allows him to contemplate what he's doing with his life.
Notes: Sorry if this doesn't flow; I tried my best, but my muse has been a bitch lately. I don't own Heroes or any of its characters. Unbetaed
Mohinder was unprepared for just how cold New York City was. Summer was right around the corner and yet he found himself pulling on an extra layer of clothing before he left for work. His heart sank every time someone sat in his taxi and told him to turn on the air conditioning, what's the matter with you why is it so damn hot in here? Reluctantly, he would switch it on. He didn't want any trouble. His colleagues back in Madras had warned him about New Yorkers. Some Americans are nice people... the people there are not. An unfair accusation, but he could hardly blame friends and coworkers who had barely ever travelled India, much less visited America.
How he missed the sights and sounds of his home! Eden had stopped by yesterday, complaining about how noisy the city was, with the perpetual honking and the construction and loud conversations people had on the sidewalks. Mohinder had smiled, thinking about much louder Madras was, with the rickshaws buzzing across the cities, men in bullock carts hawking their vegetables and wares to the passing crowds, women in the marketplaces displaying their perfumed marigold and jasmine garlands. It all seemed so far away now, amidst the grey concrete of this cold city that seemed like nothing but an endless maze.
He could tell the woman was not a native of New York City because she smiled at him as she climbed into his cab. She gave him her destination in a lightly accented tone, and judging from the colour of her eyes and her hair, Mohinder guessed her background was the same as his.
"You're from India, right?" he asked, glancing back at her in the rear view mirror. He could imagine her story, a story he had heard so many times growing up; moved to this foreign country with her husband years ago, raised her children in whatever westernized city they had settled in, and now she was in New York to visit her grown-up son or daughter. The tale was comforting to think about, a tale so different from his own life.
She snorted quietly. "California, actually. But since you asked, I grew up in Abu Dhabi. I'm just here for a business meeting."
Oops. Not even close. Mohinder did his best to look apologetic. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be presumptuous."
She didn't reply, just smiled again before pulling out a Blackberry and focusing on whatever it was that required her attention, emails and so on. The drive passed by in silence for a long while, until Mohinder realized that she was muttering and cursing quietly.
"Is everything alright?"
"I don't think so." She paused for a moment, obviously reading something, before sighing heavily. "Change of plans; do you think you could drop me off at my hotel instead?" She gave him the address and Mohinder nodded brightly.
"It's not a problem. You'll be at your hotel in no time." He paused before continuing, wondering if it was a good idea to be so chatty when he had stuck his foot in his mouth once already. But he couldn't help but persist. Living his life, he didn't have many people to speak to, aside from Eden. Work was where he tried, mostly in vain, to make connections and conversation. "Was your meeting cancelled?"
The woman laughed abruptly, a resigned tone in her voice. "Post-poned. Technically, it was post-poned yesterday evening, but it looks like the company was having problems with our databases and servers over the weekend." She looked at Mohinder curiously. "I'm guessing that you're another ambitious, highly intelligent young man from India, who came to America looking for opportunities and is instead stuck taxiing people around the city."
Now it was Mohinder's turn to laugh. "My life story is that plain to see, is it?"
"Only to those who've heard the story over and over again."
He glanced back at her seriously. "My story is a little more... complicated."
Her smile was wide and genuine, cheerful like the California sun. "Complicated is not always a bad thing. Great things come from complicated matters. I could have taken the simple route... married my college sweetheart back in Abu Dhabi, moved with him to England, where I would have worked as a secretary of some sort and raised two-point-five children in a modest bungalow. But I decided to take things into my own hands, chased my own desires without being bothered by what others said. It hasn't endeared me to my family, and it's certainly not all sunshine and rainbows. But it's my life and it's not like anyone else's. I'm carving my own path and I feel like that makes all the difference. Hopefully you'll find a path to carve through your... complicate story as well."
"I certainly hope so." Mohinder replied, solemn. A strange lightness had wrapped around him, and he found himself thinking about the work that awaited him when he returned back to his apartment. It was merely some files, a computer, a map, a lizard, and a girl who awaited him. But yes, his work was important, and would make a great difference in the end.
They were at the woman's hotel moments later. He attempted to help her with her luggage, but she waved him off and lugged the suitcase out of the trunk herself. She paid him, then hesitated for a moment.
"I wish you all the best..."
"Mohinder." he said, extremely touched by her thoughtfulness. "Thank you..."
"Sharri- I mean, Shaariqah. And you're welcome."
Getting back in his taxi, he watched as she walked away, Blackberry back in one hand as she hauled her suitcase behind her. Before he knew it, he was back in the thick of traffic, sinking into the sounds of horns honking and watching the grey towers that reached towards the sky pass by. He still missed his home, the world he had grown up in, but he knew this place was where he was meant to be. And heading back to the cryptic work that awaited him, Mohinder realized for the first time that he was no longer cold.