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Live, Love, Lentils

By William Quinonez

All Photos by Shaena Gibson

After the Sunday worship at Riverside Church, where I sit with the same elderly woman and her grand-daughter each week, I cut across the street to Andy Kessler Skatepark.

I say goodbye to the grandmother. She is pretty much my grandma now. “I better see you next Sunday, son, and that skateboard too!” she says while looking at me through her burgundy-tinted shades. She is one of the main reasons I go to the gothic cathedral each weekend. I can't let her down.

But I am also drawn to the pipe organist. His reverent sounds have the power to change your inner frequencies and put you in an altered state of mindfulness.

Feeling thankful and full of glory-glory hallelujah, I float down to the skate commune.

I dance by the dog park and wave to the Australian pointers and the French bulldogs having their afternoon meet and greet. The legendary raccoon family must be on vacation for the winter because they aren’t in their usual nook.

The cherry trees are bare, and the runners on the trails all wear leggings. Soccer players in sweaters and shin guards are warming up by the Hudson. I hopscotch over some mud and puddles and land on the smooth concrete of the skatepark.

The usual suspects are assuming their positions. Skaters with low beanies stand at the corners waiting their turn for smith grinds and board slides. Others are flowing and balancing on top of the ramps, defying gravity. BMX riders pump the transition around the edges. Roller skaters jump and glide in all directions.

Eager to warm up from the cold, I jump right in. After a dozen falls, I finally get in the groove: If the groove is being on the verge of falling, but wearing the face of someone who knows what they’re doing.

It doesn’t take long for me to bump into familiar faces. Tristian and his friends are meeting up at the skatepark. They are planning to go skate Columbus circle on 59th street. Jonathan has a new Alien Workshop board and I get hyped over his Sublime sweater. Jose from Indiana is skating the steep transition ramps and looking for a part-time job.

After hours of going in circles and finishing my hot tea, it is time for some loving lentils. The destination is Doaba Deli on W 106th street and Columbus. The deli offers a variety of foods: Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi. And the cafeteria-style restaurant makes it easy to get a quick, hot, and delicious meal.

My go-to is Dal Tadka over rice and Chana Masala with mixed vegetables. The Dal Tadka is made with split pigeon pea lentils, cumin, onions, tomatoes, and dried red pepper. It also includes asafoetida powder for its strong garlic taste. The powder is a traditional ingredient that has healing properties for coughs and stomach aches. And after a day of skating, the whole meal feels like medicine.

Filled with nourishing food, we can do anything: More skating, wandering, and talking with friends. And with Riverside Park just around the corner for New York west-siders, adventure always awaits.


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