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   Indian food along the New Jersey Turnpike
Monday, October 19 2020

location: upper floor, Apartment [REDACTED], East Watergate Building, Washington, DC

Today was the day we'd be driving back to Hurley, but before all that, we had a leisurely breakfast largely similar to the breakfasts we'd been having. And then the five of us went for a stroll to the nearby Kennedy Center, a large mostly-windowless "Kleenex box," having a wide roof overhang held up by steel columns, each (I figured out) on 36-foot centers. The building has been closed due to the pandemic, but it was still possible to walk the grounds. To the south of the main building are a series of smaller, newer buildings housing other performance spaces. One outdoor pavilion seemed ideal for skateboarders, but very few people were in evidence, and most who were were either "special police" or guys operating leafblowers.
Back in the Watergate, there was the usual bagging of enormous quantities of food for us to take, including a large amount of injera. And then we hugged our goodbyes, climbed into the Prius, and set off for home.
Along the way, though, we stopped at Thurgood Marshall Center to visit some people Powerful knows (and works with) in a prison re-entry program. The first person we met was a gentleman named Shannon, who chatted with us about high-dollar fellowships until the Tara, the woman running the program, arrived. Jesus Fucking Christ, Tara was a force of nature. She was bubbly and extroverted in an extreme way, like Gretchen on crack. I wasn't really in the mood for her energy, but I was hostage to the situation, and so I joined the tour of the offices with her. We were all wearing masks, and in addition, we were all supposed to have our temperatures checked with an infrared thermometer. But the damn thing didn't work, and even I couldn't make it work. So we toured the office anyway, with Tara losing her mind at pretty much everything she pointed to. It was exhausting, and at some point I brought up Team on my phone to see if there was anything I needed to do in my remote workplace. There actually was. I needed to answer a question about what to do in cases of saved Reports whose templates and parameters had changed.
As we rolled out of there, I told those in the car not to put their window down as we went by Tara in the parking lot, lest she come up with one last thing to ask us about.
Gretchen was doing the driving, and it wasn't long before we were in New Jersey. Eventually the idea of stopping somewhere to eat came up, and I was so traumatized from Burger King that I didn't want any sort of burger at all (despite the existence of amazing vegan burgers in New Jersey). Instead, I advocated for Indian food. Initially I tried to find a restaurant along our route, but I soon realized that the person who would care the most about the results, that is, Gretchen, should be doing the research. So I had Gretchen pull over so I could drive and she could do the research. She quickly found an Indian restaurant an hour away that was vegetarian (though not vegan), and then she wrote down all the things we might want. The restaurant didn't bother to define esoteric terms on their website, so it seemed like our experience would be fairly authentic. Gretchen then called and placed the order, and the guy at the restaurant started the order without ever getting payment.
The restaurant was Kesar's Indian Thali, and, like most Indian restaurants in New Jersey, it was located in a strip mall. The plan was to get our food as takeout, since such restaurants never have outdoor space. But there was only one person in the dining room, and he was working on a laptop. So we decided we could eat there in the dining room. It would be the first meal we had eaten in a restaurant dining room since March (for Powerful, it would perhaps be his first since the 1990s). The food, by the way, was excellent. Towards the end of the meal, Gretchen was craving a sip of Coca-Cola, so I got a Coke that I ended up having to drink most of. I don't know when the last time was that I drank a Coke, but it was probably more than ten years ago. It was actually pretty good.
Gretchen drove us from there all the way back to Hurley, and the drive was mostly uneventful. There were a few asshole drivers making things dangerous on the road, but we never got stuck in traffic. We stopped at the Trader Joe's on Route 17 to get more than $200 worth of groceries. That place was a little more crowded than I would've preferred during a pandemic, but at least everyone was wearing masks over their noses.
Our house sitter Avis was still at the house when we returned. She departed as we were still carrying things in from our cars.


A driftwood horse by Deborah Butterfield at the Kennedy Center. It looked, as I said to Powerful, like something a White Walker might ride. "That's a Game of Thrones reference," I told Gretchen.


A display of how to do "the Twist" in the southern expansion of the Kennedy Center.


The dos & don'ts of poetry retyping at the prisoner re-entry program at the Thurgood Marshall Center.


For linking purposes this article's URL is:
http://asecular.com/blog.php?201019

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