It’s almost impossible these days to plan on a whim. A last minute call from a kidless friend to “do dinner” is the evergreen reminder that we are no longer our single selves. It’s fine, of course, but always a bummer to say, “Sorry. We can’t tonight.” So the other day, when I received a last minute call from a friend wondering if Husband and I wanted to join them for Indian food at Jeeva restaurant and ashram she had recently discovered, I was excited at the thought of these two savior words: my parents.
My parents, who are staying with us for 2+ months, were also invited, but I knew my mom’s response would be, “That’s ok. I’ll stay with the kids.” And I knew my dad’s response would include shrugging his shoulders and curling his lip, “Indian food?” He’d question like he’d never heard of it, “Nah.” He’s routine and slightly compulsive. He doesn’t like the food on his plate to touch and prefers his salad on a separate plate. La Yogurt yogurt is his band of choice and might try a different brand only if there’s no other option. Sometimes he eats pizza with a fork and knife. He’s got his things. But his routine and my mom’s preference to stay with the kids so as to not bother our nanny, meant Husband and I were goin’ Sizzler. Well, not exactly Sizzler.
Jeeva was hard to find, even with Waze. When we finally found the small white door and rang the bell, we were greeted by a loud Mooooo. It wasn’t one of those bells with sound effects, either. It was an actual cow. She was a beauty. But yes, there was a real cow in the middle of some house turned ashram / restaurant in Santo Domingo. “A cow in the restaurant?” My mom bellowed when we got home, “You would never see that in the U.S. … major lawsuit.” These are the things one starts to love about living abroad. Anything could be an adventure because most things we think are “normal” depend on your current location.
Restaurant is also a loose term. They are open only by reservation and then serve from 12:30-2:30 and again from 7:00-9:00. There is a prepared meal for your party, so numbers matter. There is no menu or variety, we all got the same meal. It isn’t an option I’d choose normally, but I’ll admit it was nice to leave the decision making at the front door (with the cow). The Swami of the ashram himself, prepares the food; a tapas type affair with small portions of Basmati rice, breaded broccoli in chickpea flour, and coconut and peanut chutney on cassava.
The woman who organized our meal, told us a little about our meal before we began and I giggled when she said it was made with “e-spices” because if you know Spanish speakers, you know that every English word that begins with an S, really begins with an E. (My cousin is married to e-Stephanie.) I thought You could take the ashram out of India but if you put that ashram in Santo Domingo it’s gonna e-speak e-Spanish.
Throughout dinner, as in typical Dominican fashion, the power went out occasionally so we ate in darkness. It sparked conversations and stories of friends who have visited “dark restaurants.” I clung to the girl next to me, since, yes, I’m slightly afraid of the dark. I like to think it brought us closer together. It was that authenticity though, of the e-spices pronunciation and the dark dining that was very much alive in the rest of Jeeva and the ashram. There was a simplicity to this place that can’t be replicated with the right interior designer. It was a place that wasn’t created with the public in mind, it wasn’t decorated to appear authentic; it just was.
At the end of the evening, as we all put our shoes back on, I looked around and wondered about life at the ashram. How differently these people live from me but how close in proximity we are to one another. We live in the same city and yet, light years away. I doubt their life in Santo Domingo, is anything like my life in Santo Domingo. And that made me happy. The older I get, the more I understand how important it is to be different; how crucial variety, diversifying, and evolving is to our survival. It isn’t always easy to wander out of your comfort zone and experience other “normals.” And sometimes it isn’t a matter of the grass being greener or not greener, sometimes the grass just has a cow on it.
Because why not?
Address: Calle Galván #25, Gazcue. 809.685.7432. Open everyday from 12:30-2:30 and 7:00-9:00.
~ UNTIL THE NEXT BOTTLE ~
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