After a traumatic day of major reversals, I decided to spring for a car service so I could bring my (very heavy) harmonium to the yoga class I teach on the Upper East Side. This might have been my last class, because nobody ever shows up. I can't tell if I've lost my touch, yoga-wise, or if it's just a dry streak.
There were four people in the class, one of whom had to leave early.
"I have a special treat for you!" I told them. "Chanting!"
"We hate chanting," they said.
So we didn't chant, and after this I felt very depressed and went out for a veggie burger and some red wine. I walked six blocks with the dark star of a harmonium, only to find that the veggie burger place had a 30-minute wait.
I was about to go home in a fog of gloom when I saw a red neon sign that read, "Turkish Cuisine."
Turkish places always have good vegetarian food. I sat at the bar, and that's when the night started looking up. My Georgian bartendress was poured into her sweaterdress and turned out to be a great fan of erotic literature. The imam bayaldi was superb, as was the homemade hot sauce, which I poured over the hummus and steamed vegetables. I sat next to the owner, Suleiman, who gave me free eggplant salad and plied me with a third glass of pinot noir. I staggered back into the evening, groaning beneath the weight of my harmonium.
"The world is an okay place, after all," I thought, hailing a cab.
The best was yet to come.
When I opened the door of the cab, magical music oozed out. It was like the music they play in the land of elves and unicorns. The cabbie turned it off immediately.
"What was that?" I asked. "Chanting?"
"It is Bengali music," he said.
"Oh," I said, deciding to free associate. "I love Rabindranath Tagore."
The great Nobel Laureate is the only thing I know about Bengali culture. I'm obssessed with his devotional poetry. My copy of Gitanjali, with its magnificent WB Yeats intro, is dogeared and stained with shrimp juice.
"That was a song of Rabindranath Tagore," said the driver. "Do you want me to turn it back on?"
So began the best cab ride I have ever had. I think my driver might be the East Coast authority on Rabindranath Tagore. On the ride back to Brooklyn, he played me a carefully curated selection of songs, interspersed with biographical notes. It was hard to make myself get out at Park Slope.
"One more," he said. "This is about the rainy season. I think it is from Gitanjali."
I wonder if it was #40:
The rain has held back for days and days, my God, in my arid heart. The horizon is fiercely naked -- not the thinnest cover of a soft cloud, not the vaguest hint of a distant cool shower.
Send thy angry storm, dark with death, if it is thy wish, and with lashes of lightning startle the sky from end to end.
But call back, my lord, call back this pervading silent heat, still and keen and cruel, burning the heart with dire despair.
Let the cloud of grace bend low from above like the tearful look of the mother on the day of the father's wrath.