Not too far from where I live is a Muslim restaurant, a place that welcomed me when I was having a difficult time with cultural adjustments and that has always been an oasis of diversity and tolerance for me. As I walked, I realized that was where I wanted to be.
Abu Ibrahim is a place that is dark and cool and clean. The food is very good; there is no alcohol. The man who runs it has seen me in the neighborhood for years; he knows where I live and where I'm from and we always have brief but warm conversations.
Yesterday I sat there in the company of two elderly Chinese-Thai gentlemen enjoying a leisurely coffee together, a tableful of ebullient Thai men having a feast, a Euro boy and his Southern Thai girlfriend, a couple of Middle Eastern men waiting for their take-out, three men from the Subcontinent being convivial over food, a young Thai couple, she texting on her mobile, he immersed in a magazine, as they sipped their lassis, and a gigantic multi-generational Sino-Thai family embarking on a holiday lunch. I ate my dal and butter naan, sipped my freshly squeezed lemonade, drank the bottle of water that Abu Ibrahim gives to each table, and thanked every lucky star I've ever seen glowing in the night sky for this place of kindness and nourishment in a turbulent world.