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Daily Connect: The Last Falafel Ever - An Incredible Personal Story of Impermanence
Submitted by Ethan Nichtern on Fri, 1/21/2011, 11:47am
Last night, Patrick Groneman and I grabbed some falafels and hung out after work at a small place we sometimes go after meditation class at IDP on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, The Three Monkeys. It's a nice wrap and falafel place, but there's no use recommending it to New Yorkers right now. We hung out for a while - Patrick reading for a Shambhala class on emptiness (he's like that), while I took a short break from preparing the five dharma talks I'm giving this weekend, reading The Hunger Games, a dystopian scifi novel (I'm like that) that is pretty damn engrossing, and probably not really suitable for the pre-teens it's targeted toward. An Italian soccer match blared on the tv above us.
We hung out for a while after the falafels were gone, studying, relaxing. I felt at ease, despite the arc of January duties that have left me without a full day off before February. Then the girl behind the counter stepped out into the tiny restaurant area and said quietly, almost playfully, "Um, you should all probably leave. There's a fire that we can't put out."
We looked up and saw a grease fire flailing from the grill behind the counter, and the cook struggling to figure out what to do about it. Slowly (too slowly, my nervous mind thought), Patrick gathered up his notes on the illusory nature of appearance and followed me outside. "It's gonna blow," the cook, also surprisingly nonchalantly, said when we were just outside the door. I didn't know what he was talking about, but my thoughts perversely go to an action movie cliche. By the time we were 50 feet down the sidewalk, brown-black smoke was pouring through the door and filling the air above the street. After that, it probably only took 60 seconds for Three Monkeys to become Zero Monkeys. By the time we rounded the corner we heard the firetrucks. I'm guessing the youtube clip below (it's all online now, isn't it?) was shot two or three minutes later at most.
A block away around the corner, two gentlemen in front of a nightclub were wondering what was with all the smoke and sirens. We told them where we'd been, and how quickly a small grease fire had gone crazy.
"Damn," they said. "I hope those wraps were good."
"They were," Patrick said.
Practice like your hair is on fire, my dear friends.
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