But first, a quick three-breath meditation
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
Deep breath in, eyes closed. Deep breath out.
Deep breath in, eyes closed, attention on third eye center. Deep breath out.
Okay, now the story, thanks for playing <3
The universe has style. I mean big hexagonal sunglasses, white culottes and a unisex crop-top with embroidered rainbow velvet loafers style. In purely qualitative terms, a strange and complex fluidity. A network in which words, thoughts, ideas, and actions stream and bounce and collide and pinch and bend the fabric here and there and somehow some things manifest in our subjective earthly experience.
Why am I on this topic? Because mad crazy stuff happened.
On Mondays, Whole Foods has $8 “Meatless Monday” dinner plates that my mom loves to stock up on. She texted me on Monday, February 27th, to go with her and grab a plate for her to take to lunch the next day, and afterwards we may eat dinner out nearby. My father would join us straight from work. We didn’t really know where we would eat, though the main veggie-friendly options were Paladar (Latin kitchen & bar) and Taza (Lebanese cuisine). Somehow, although Taza features more extensive vegan items and excellent table service, I felt a tug to dine at Paladar. Maybe it was their coconut mango rice calling to me.
We selected a quiet table in a corner, far from the noisy party of thirty and other restaurant patrons. We waited for over thirty minutes for our orders to come out (really, I wasn’t kidding when I said Taza’s table service was superior) and were given all kinds of incorrect dishes (including chicken skewers—quite the un-appetizer to our herbivorous tribe). The manager happened to be nearby and assured us a remedy. Soon, our family table talk devolved into hangrily whining about the food, Trump administration, and the Donald’s condoning of the senseless shooting of innocent Indian men in Kansas City. A few minutes later, two glorious looking desserts with big candied-orange wheels were being carried—more like floated—towards our table. My first thought was “OHMYGOSH THE MANAGER HAD THESE SENT TO US!!!” verbatim. Maybe with a few more exclamation points.
Brutal reality check: the neighboring table had actually purchased these items, and my longing eyes followed their ethereal journey. That was when my parents and I saw an elderly woman attempting to wake her likewise elderly husband, who had, in fact, requested this dessert. We brushed off his unresponsiveness, like she seemed to, as a deep and mildly humorous public slumber common to old age. We all privately felt a tinge of discomfort, though. I kept my eyes on his shoulders, rising and falling, monitoring that they continued to fill with breath.
Minutes ticked on, and despite the shaking, patting, and various vocalizations from his wife, the man remained silent. My father overheard them say “ambulance” and we promptly asked if everything was okay.
“He’s not responding,” his wife said, clearly distressed. My parents leapt into action. Fresh from work, their hospital ID badges were handy and within seconds they were taking pulses and evaluating potential causes and solutions while providing reassurance to the wife and her friends. Their expertise made the painful wait for an ambulance productive and bearable.
My mother’s assessment: he was having a stroke.
My dad and I rushed to move tables and chairs out of the way so we could lay the man flat, legs elevated, so blood could better reach his brain. Luckily, the ambulance team arrived soon enough to where this measure was not necessary, though the cleared space provided a quick pathway for the stretcher. As soon as he was laid flat, he became responsive again, sharing that he was 86 years old.
“He’s a rabbi,” his wife piped in. I felt even more at ease upon hearing this; faith was on his side. She turned to us, and upon learning our last name asked if we were from India. We nodded.
“Well, thanks for being here. We hate the current president,” she added, grasping my forearm.
After the stretcher was ready for transport to a hospital, we all hugged goodbye and wished them well. When we got home, I attempted to make sense of the blur of events. It was one of those “everything leads up to now” experiences (although arguably every experience is an “everything leads up to now” experience, some are just easier to perceive and are tied off remarkably neatly). This is what I mean when I say the universe has some serious steez.
From a vague swirling of “will we eat out tonight?” to two professionally-ready physicians and a pre-med student sitting adjacent to a stroking rabbi, what bends and folds in space-time took place?
There were so many factors—poor table service delaying us at the restaurant long enough, the dessert that caught our attentions—and even further, the fact that my parents went to medical school, met, immigrated, moved to Cleveland, the inception of Paladar, and so on.
The neatness of the event runs even deeper. While we helped our fellow diners, they also provided reassurance to us by acknowledging the necessity of our modern immigrant population, specifically Indians (indeed uncannily aligned with our dinner conversation). I myself, in a dizzying cloud of career decision-making confusion, felt a polite but assured kick-in-the-ass reminder as to why I want to attend medical school. Even further, after an extended bout of disagreement with my parents due to inevitable intercultural/intergenerational discord, our relationships patched up quickly as we morphed into a synchronous trio aiming for the best possible outcome for the rabbi, and giddily recounted our adventure afterwards. The various levels of healing that took place in that single outing leaves me awestruck.
One could dismiss it all as chance, but I prefer a different lens. The beauty of manifestation of the vibrations in the universe. Fate. Kismet.
Regardless, Paladar gave us a $50 gift card. The Krishnas will no doubt be returning for some well-earned coconut mango rice.