Last night I had a pair of hazel eyes on my mind. And to be honest, I wasn't sure if continuing to think about them was a good idea. I needed a distraction right quick.
Then I saw the light - or lights as it were. My friend Paula called suggesting a roadtrip to Jackson Heights, where we could partake in Diwali - the Indian festival of lights.
Armed with directions from Mapquest, we hit the road like Thelma and Louise - hoping for a better ending before the credits rolled and some quality Tandoori while we were at it.
Foodie that I am, I'd been to Jackson Heights many a time - but always by subway. This was my first time by car. And, Paula had never been there at all. So, we were counting on Mapquest to show us the way.
Good ol' Mapquest. It most certainly showed us the way - WAY out of our way - by about 45 minutes to be exact.
After several twists and turns though, we finally landed in the midst of tree-lined streets festooned with colorful light, stumbling into a 74th Street fave, Delhi Palace. Settling in, we ordered an oversized bottle of Taj Beer, crisp Samosas, a heaping platter of mixed Tandoori meats, creamy Raita and Sambar Vada (pictured below), a specialty of deep-fried lentil donuts.
Mid-way through our celebratory feast, a caricature of a man at the next table started to offer us a taste of his Dal pancake. Then he insisted on getting a taste himself - a taste of my lips. Either drunk, crazy, or a wee bit of both, he rambled on about how I was his sister, he was my brother and that he was owed a kiss.
After a few more feeble attempts, he moved on to accost another table and we breathed a sigh of relief. Now we could enjoy our meal in peace.
Before either of us could take another bite, there was another man whispering in my ear.
"Is everything okay? Are you enjoying yourself?"
My mysterious whispering admirer was none other than the restaurant's manager, waaaaaay too close for comfort.
This evening was getting more bizarre by the minute.
WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON!?!
Paula looked at me in disbelief. OK. I know I asked for distraction, but this was ridiculous.
We ran out of there like bats out of hell. But sadly, the experience at the restaurant left a sour taste in our mouths. It just wouldn't do. We simply needed to explore more of Jackson Heights before heading home.
It was time to investigate one of the area's Indian grocery stores, Apna Bazaar. Chock-a-block with a dizzying array of rice, lentils, chutneys, spices, jars filled with foreign delights like Pickled Tumeric (pictured below), breads aplenty, and a myriad of frozen dinners that clearly arrived in Queens by way of Bombay, it was a treat for the eyes.
But had all of the evening's events served to distract me from the memory of those hazel eyes?
The next set of lights I saw summed up my state of mind perfectly.
Quite a prophetic festival of lights to say the least.