Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Mary found a Rochester vegetarian blog connected to the UR ("University of Rochester") website, and it had a list of recommended restaurants. We found one of them Saturday night for dinner, an Indian restaurant, the Tandoor. After entering we were greeted by an Indian lady. As she lead us to our table, we walked by two couples enjoying their dinner, both also apparently from India. I heard a snatch of conversation about medical things as I walked by, and guessed they were doctors. I knew we were in the right place.

The owners were proud of their kitchen, because there was a large picture window on the wall that separated the dining area from where the cooks were busy at work. Two of them were Sikhs. As I stood in front of the glass looking in, one of the men made bread, first shaping the dough into what could be taken for the beginnings of a small pizza, and then placing it into an unusual sort of oven set on its end, with the round opening facing up. In fact, it seemed more like a very large bowl, sunk down into the counter surface, so that the cook placed the dough down in it, using two special tools, long rods of metal with hooks on one end. The oven is called a tandoor, thus the name of the restaurant. The kitchen was spotless, and the people working in there seemed to be enjoying themselves.

This was our second dinner at an Indian restaurant on this trip, and I relished the egg-plant based dish I ordered, and, of course, the freshly baked bred, called Naan, believe. I am going to have to learn the names of these dishes and their ingredients, so I can describe them better. But we greatly enjoyed our dinner.

We ate our dinner in an area of Greater Rochester that Mary calls "the sprawl," a suburban area with large and small shopping centers and malls south of the city proper. Here is where Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, BB&B, etc., live, and here is where we make many visits as we help Mary get her apartment in shape for the next four years. The UR Medical Center and the University of Rochester itself, to which the medical center is adjacent, are on the south side of town, so there is quick (about 15 minutes or less) access to the sprawl further south and all its shopping from Mary's apartment.

Sunday morning, however, we drove to the west of the city proper, looking for Parkminster PC, where a friend of Mary's from Davidson is a member. We found it in a pleasant suburb in time for its 9:30AM (summer schedule) service. It reminded us a lot of MSPC. The people were friendly, the size of the congregation maybe two or three times ours, and the architecture familiar. Before the service began, the pastor came over to where we were sitting, and introduced himself, which we appreciated. There was a good mix of generations, a good praise team, and the pastor preached a solid sermon entitled "A Severe Mercy," a grown-up sermon, actually, about the Christian life and its serious challenges. This church looked like it might be fine church home for Mary.

I did mention the familiar architecture of this church, and so I must mention a feature of its interior that was plainly different from home. As one walks through the wide doors of the church from the parking lot, to the right is a very large cloak-room. It has no doors, one simply walks into this large area. It is lined with racks, places to hang one's coat, set one's hat, and doff one's boots. We had none of those things on, of course, but let me tell you, these people are ready for the winter. Poor Mary! From the equator to the North Pole in one year! But the church, as I indicated, had a warm and friendly spirit. That should help.

As we finished our visit to PMPC about 11AM, we decided to drive over to the center city area. Mary had been to a coffee shop called "The Spot" on an earlier visit, and thought she would be able to find it again. We drove around downtown some before we found it, and so I got a pretty good look. It is impressive. Downtown is clearly past its prime, the days when Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lamb were roaring, but it is just as clearly very far from dead. In fact, it seems to be in a measured state of renovation. The streets were clean, the empty buildings, not in overwhelming number, were not neglected at all but seemed to offer their readiness for another life.

"The Spot" was such a place, in fact. "Coffee shop" does not do the place justice. It is a converted, downtown Chevrolet car dealership, located on a street corner not far from the Eastman School of Music. One walks through the double doors straight into the former, two story high, showroom, in the center of which is set a very large coffee bar, and along the sides of which are tables and counters populated with folks taking advantage of the good coffee, muffins, and free wireless. It is the sort of place thousands of Starbuck's managers across the world dream of as they sleep through the night, most of whom unaware that such a place actually exists . . . in Rochester.

The urban neighborhoods of Rochester through which we drove as we returned to Mary's house seemed friendly, the houses not so big as well kept and unpretentious, with trees everywhere and lawns green with summer's plentiful rainfall. (Mary said that the mansions are elsewhere in the city.) This is a nice place.

No comments: