SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 127: “Wit” Gration

There is a colorful street, ten miles from home. I’ll call it, “The thoroughfare to culinary delight.”

I once before ventured here, several weeks ago, when I met the lovely Miss Alice (A Protector of Virtue). And in a way she works in a type wonderland, six city blocks of culture for the palate, and culture for the mind. An open aired paved arena made up of hundreds of meters of bumper-to-bumper gourmet catering trucks, all co-existing with a grand variety of open late storefronts. It’s a nomadic population, and it’s magnificent.

The event happen every week, same place, same time, and it is a glorious melting pot of man, food and humanity.

To the left, with the most beautiful aromas lofting into the air, is a taste of India; to the right, a mix of Argentinian delicacies is fronted by the luck of the Irish, a plastic chair seated quartet, performing authentic Irish folk music.

As far as I can see is variety, not only food, but people. This is my kind of destination, raw, honest and real. I’m positive I’ll be back often.

Tonight, several family friends, my daughter and wife accompany me in my 365 quest. Hey, I’ve got to share, don’t I?

Jim, my tall six-foot five buddy, is first to order. His choice, an amazing cheese steak sandwich… orders it half-size. Half size? Dude!

I figure, at five-feet nine inches, I have a responsibility for the short people, so in jesting mock of Jim’s choice, I step up to truck and order my sandwich, “Make mine a full, and I’ll have it Wit everything.”

Wit, not a typo; for those of you who have never ordered Philly style, here is my definition.

Wit (preposition), 1 – used as a function word to indicate the building of a sandwich with excessive amounts of cheese, grilled onions and other ground grown tasty stuff, <who cares if it will kill me, I’ll have it wit everything>, 2 – used a function word to indicate means, outcome or effect of consumption, <clog my arteries wit cheese>

With whatever machismo I can muster I challenge, “Jim, why did you get the half, the whole looks like more fun.”

He slays me, “I’m saving room for other samplings.”

“Ah geeze! That never dawned to me. I relent my gauntlet, I have been beaten, Jim is an outdoor dining generous. And humbled at the consumption task lying before me, I bow in defeat as I sight my spot, readying myself for a curb site eating session.

I lock eyes on the perfect ledge, the recessed window of a sports memorabilia store, but I will not be dining alone. Seated in the perch is Gration, a delightful and warm gentleman, and today’s 365 friend.

We speak rapidly, he finishing his meal, and myself a the beginning of my food frenzy. Plus, the added head count of my friends and family, who are with me this evening, leads the interview to a short but sweet set of question and answers.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Gration tells me of his career path, “In Sri Lanka I was in the import/export business, mostly garments and textiles. It was good, I was successful and the first to import into Russia.” Not an easy thing to do way back when.

From there, Gration traveled, lived in Spain for a while and finally settled in the United States.

He is a very intelligent and educated man with a list of skills and talents that would take me an hours long interview to fully understand.

But here is what I can tell you. After Sri Lanka, Gration spent years as a civil engineer and concluded his path settling in the United States, supervising for a global electronics company. He did that for 20 years prior to retiring.

I do not know what Gration is doing now; time is too short to truly find out, yet he gives me his business card, Artist.

On it is a reproduction of a spectacular pastel landscape.

I really meant it when I said, “The man is talented.”

I ask him for his website, “I do not have one, I’m not doing this to sell art, I’m doing it because I enjoy art; pencils, charcoal, water-color, it does not matter, but I have to say pastel are my favorite.”

“I’m not doing this to sell art, I enjoy art,” This in itself is an acknowledgment of Gration’s modesty

All right, we’ve seen a peek to who Gration is; a nice, smart, artistic and approachable guy. Is there more?

Oh yeah! He cares about people, more than himself. This is obvious in his openness to interview with me. There is no hesitation at all, “I’m happy to let you write about anything I have to say.”

And what Gration says has nothing to do about himself. The above stuff, I pulled it from my observations and from what can I pry out of him.

Gration has no contempt or boastfulness about him, the greatest way to label him, as I mentioned earlier, Gracious.

Gration’s biggest concern:

“I pray every day, and night before sleep, for peace in the world.”

Gration’s call to action:

“Respect each other, no matter of religion, race, creed or class. Respect them and they will respect you.”

Gration’s Dream for the world:

“Unity in all nations,” or at least, “Greater peace and harmony.”

Gration’s only self-centered request:

“I wants to settle in Italy, I love it there, Sorrento and Naples are beautiful.”

Gration, an honor dining with you. Ciao!