Thursday, August 26, 2010

To meet a Neighbor Takes a Column

I will soon be marking the 10th year of writing a weekly food column for the Miami Herald. I started in October of 2000 and have met many interesting people, many who have become friends over the years. I even visited the remote village in South India that is the home of Raja Kandaswammy, the owner of Rajas's in downtown Miami (NE 2nd near Flagler). At one point, faces of the villagers were pressed to each window staring at me. When I walked to the local Hindu temple, everyone followed.  It seemed like I was a strange star that fell from the sky. I then visieted the nearby town where Raja's wife Chitra is from and spent a memorable night eating with her sister and parents. My every move was videotaped and for a year after I had returned to Miami the video played in the small restaurant as Raja proudly shared his parents, his village and way of life with customers.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth St. Theresa, the Albanian Sister who went on to found her charity in Calcutta (now Kolkata). I visited it when I was in Kolkata and you can't but feel the immensity of her faith manifested in her work with the poor.  Tonight several buildings in South Florida are lit in the blue and white colors of the sari she always wore. Let her light shine on forever. And by the way, Kolkata is not a "black hole". It is a vibrant Bengali city known as the intellectual center of India with poets, writers, film makers, actors and artists  contributing to works that are known around the world. The food is very different and based on freshwater fish and rice from the region, but I'll be getting to that later.

And today a person e-mailed with a comment on one of my Herald columns. A random stranger. I found out in replying that we live three blocks from one another. The next time he and his wife have one of their Friday night gatherings, I'll be there. The world works in mysterious ways but I'm glad to be making the connections.

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