Portrait of Sam, from Smiling Elephant
On Wednesday, we stopped in to see Sam, from Smiling Elephant restaurant, on 8th Avenue South. Sam is the brother of Patti Myint, who runs International Market and PM and is the Queen of Belmont. Behind the Smiling Elephant is an auto repair garage, and Sam worked on cars for years, and one day, he began to build out the front building, after hours, into a Thai restaurant.
Several months ago, I made my first visit to his new restaurant. When I walked up to the cashier counter to pay my Tab, there was a Buddha sitting on the counter, and I asked him about it. It turns out, it was not a Buddha, but a famous meditation teacher in Thailand. He told me the story of this man’s life. I told him I’d begun to practice meditation. He began to talk to me about my breath, and about his various techniques of his own meditation. People were beginning to line up behind me, eager to pay and get on their way, but Sam was not phased by this — he continued to talk to me patiently, and tell me his own story.
The next time I went in the restaurant — this time for take out — I was sitting on the little bench by the cashier counter, waiting for my food, and Sam came over to me and said, unprompted, “You know, the main thing in life is to give our bodies healthy food, and to provide for our families.” We began to talk again, about health, and meditation, and life goals. He’d look right into my eyes, his big bushy eyebrows moving above his sparkling eyes. We barely knew each other, but we talked as if we’d been friends for years.
Now, we swap books, and literature on meditation, when I go into the restaurant. I see him now and give him a big hug — I’m not sure how he feels about that, but he goes along with it. So he seemed perfect for my new little portrait series — a man who’s unique and interesting, and is contributing positive energy to those around him. His restaurant is booming, with lines out the front door every day at lunch, and soon, my bet is that he’ll have to renovate the auto garage out back, in order to accomodate all the customers, and his continued success. He’s a special man.