Payal gave a soft smile. "I'd start a fashion line and have a runway show."
"I'd start a charity," Sonam said. "I'd do something that protected women and girls across the world. Maybe even go to India and do reproductive health work there."
Kiran grinned, knowing Sonam would fulfill her wish someday. It was a matter of when, not if. She thought about her own list—what would she do?
"I'd follow my heart," she said suddenly. "I've done everything expected of me, you know? But I don't know how to trust myself and just 'be'. I guess I'd do that."
"There's time," Payal said with a conspiratorial wink. "Okay, so everyone bring a new, revised list to the next CMC date, all right? Kiran, you can add a few things to yours or just bring it as is since you still have stuff to do."
They all nodded or murmured their assent.
"So, speaking of following hearts, guess who did something stupid with the opposite sex?" Akash asked.
"You," Kiran answered. "That question was an opening for you to tell us."
The rest laughed.
"I met a girl, actually. But let's see where it goes."
"You met a girl, did you?" Payal's eyes sparkled. "Do we get to meet her?"
"Come on, Akash!" Sonam protested. "Quit being a dick and tell us some details so we can judge her."
"She's cool. You know the New York dating scene, though. We may find new people in the next couple of days." He shrugged.
"This is true," Payal conceded as she added yet another packet of sugar to her chai. "It's all so fleeting."
"Well, forever 'is' fleeting nowadays, isn't it?" Kiran asked. "It's not like it used to be with our parents meeting and getting married a month after maybe seeing each other once. The entire game has changed."
"It's pretty much all over in a swipe," Akash agreed.
"But it hasn't actually gotten any easier, has it?" Payal spoke. "I mean, you'd think with all these options to meet people, we'd all be in relationships, but if anything, the choices have made us less decisive and more fearful of commitment."
"Unless we choose our parents' route, I guess it has become harder," Kiran considered.
"But you've already decided to go their route, so it's a moot point for you, isn't it?" Sonam pointed out.
"I went on a date the other day—friend-of-a-friend situation," Kiran said, proving Sonam's point.
"Do tell!" Payal encouraged.
"It tanked. No personality. Believed in a dowry. Had the balls to say that men could sleep around but that they should only marry virgins. You know how it can be."
Sonam looked outraged, and even her hair seemed to stand on edge.
Payal shook her head, taking a sip of tea. When she put her cup down, there was no ring of red lipstick around the white rim.
"Well, that's outdated. Sounds like a douche," Akash said, raising his cup as a toast. "You dodged a bullet."
"That's okay. There's plenty of fish in the sea." Sonam shrugged.
"You have to kiss plenty of frogs," Payal said.
"You'd know. You've probably made out with most of them," Kiran retorted.
"Whatever. We're young. Successful. Awesome. Why not take advantage of it and have some fun?" Payal dismissed all notion of the conservative propriety Kiran had grown up with. "And did you just make a joke?"
"I did." Kiran flipped her hair over her shoulder. "I thought it was pretty good."
"Yeah, yeah," Payal grumbled. "Like I said...we're young and we should enjoy life."