Sunday, May 4, 2008

I Become a New Yorker

I spent the interval between April and August Celebrations (1985) back in California. It would be my last as a disciple. I returned to New York in August fully intending to ensconce myself at the Smile of the Beyond and hope that my dream of moving to New York permanently would become a fait accompli.

During Celebrations that August, I spent my mornings as a ball boy at the tennis court and then would head straight over to the Smile to work the post-function rush. By Celebrations' end, my plan to move to New York was given a fortuitous boost by a change in the restaurant's leadership.

For reasons unknown to me, Shushoban left the Smile and Guru tapped Sahishnu to take over its management. The turnover wasn't limited to Shushoban -- the entire day crew was disbanded. Sahishnu promptly closed the Smile for a few weeks for extensive renovations. When the Smile re-opened, Sahishnu was the new grill man, while I shared salad bar and waiting duties with another California transfer named Satyajit (formerly of S.F.).

We were also aided in the afternoons by Ketan, who had just graduated from high school in Connecticut and was now in New York full-time. My routine became quite simple. I worked at the Smile 13 days every two weeks: I had every other Sunday off. If I didn't run in the morning before work, then I ran after work (typically with Sundar).

After a shower and a quick meal, I'd head off to the tennis court or evening function. Afterwards, I'd usually head back to the Smile to get a start on Bipin's and Databir's night-crew chores (while they were up at Guru's house). Oftentimes -- once they returned from Guru's house -- we'd all work into the early morning hours on some other project, like laying out a new running course for Guru on the streets of Queens or putting up posters in Manhattan. Little did I know that this routine of mine would remain largely unchanged for the next three years.

Early that fall, while having his breakfast at the Smile and reading the the New York Post, Databir looked up at me behind the counter.

"Yogaloy, Guru says you can stay."

I didn't quite follow. "What do you mean: 'I can stay'," I asked.

"Guru said you can stay in New York," Databir replied matter-of-factly, his eyes already back on the paper.

Just like that, the goal was won.

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