Nandita: I used to go away on trips once a week, and I always used to buy People magazine on my flights. I think maybe I left my magazines in the recycling or something, and Barbara [would read them]. And she was like, “I really love the royal family.” So anytime the royal family was on the cover of People, I would give it to her. And then one day she said, “Well, do you want to subscribe to it?” So Barbara and I now share a subscription to People magazine that we trade off.
Barbara: I get it first.
Nandita: We have a special bag, and she leaves it on my door when she’s finished. I had a party for the royal wedding, when Harry and Meghan got married, and Barbara came over for that party as well.
Beck: What do you guys think about Megxit?
Barbara: About what?
Nandita: Harry and Meghan leaving the family.
Barbara: You know what, I didn’t like her. So I didn’t care if she was gone. I think she was a troublemaker. I happen to like Kate a lot.
Nandita: For me, it seems like she was being hounded there in a very racialized manner. I just felt like the way she was talked about in the British press was really terrible. So I don’t blame them for leaving. Barbara and I disagree on this because I don’t think it was her who’s causing the trouble.
Beck: How have things been for you since the pandemic started? Do you both live alone or do you live with other people?
Nandita: I live alone.
Barbara: I live alone.
Nandita: We talk every single day of this pandemic.
Barbara: She wanted to see if I was still alive.
Nandita: When it became clear that people in Barbara’s age range were more at risk, I told Barbara my plan, that we would talk to each other every day. We always made sure we didn’t call each other during [Governor Andrew] Cuomo’s press conference, because we both had to watch that. And we would check on each other and see if we needed anything. Barbara would go out once a day, because she needs to get exercise. I’ve been trying to go out every other day or every third day to minimize the risk.
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On Saturdays, I go to the farmer’s market, and I go to this bakery further away that I think would be quite a walk for Barbara to get to. Which reminds me, Barbara, if you want anything for tomorrow, let me know.
Beck: Have you gotten to know each other better during this pandemic?
Barbara: One day Nandita said to me, “Why don’t we open our doors, and sit in our own apartments? We’re right across from each other. But talk to each other through the open doors.” That was really good because you got to talk to somebody, not on the telephone. You got to see the person you were talking to. I thought that was a great idea, and it worked out very well.
I talked a lot during that meeting that we had. I gave her my whole background, every job I’ve had and whatever.