to Mayur Bharucha
I was twenty-seven when I was given the assignment to interview Mysol. I was a journalist at Peachtree Readers and was six months engaged to a witty girl I had met in graduate school. All I knew about Mysol before the interview was that he was Indian. He had opened a restaurant named One Hour several months earlier. It was located in Stone Mountain, a small county outside of Atlanta. The restaurant was only open one hour every day, from midnight to one o'clock in the morning. This strange premise was what interested Peachtree Readers.
I headed out to One Hour around 6:00 p.m. the day of the interview. I was unfamiliar with Stone Mountain and got lost several times trying to find the restaurant. I finally found the street which branched off into a lightly wooded area. A short stone marker on the side of the road indicated that I was going the right way. I pulled into the empty lot outside of the restaurant around 7:00p.m.. The parking lot was small and looked like it was made for about two dozen cars. The sun had set, but light lingered in the sky reassuring me. The idea of being out there in that deserted area alone made me apprehensive, but the restaurant eased my mind. I had had no expectations before I arrived on how One Hour would look. I can still say I was surprised.
An elaborate garden surrounded the building. I started down the pathway leading through the garden to One Hour. Purple violets, red roses, white lilies, and a multitude of other beautifully hued flowers populated the garden. A thick, flowery fragrance exuded from the foliage and wrapped around me. I became calm as I walked down the path covered with bespeckled pebbles. Clouds tinted bright orange by the dying light spread in motionless waves blanketing the sky. Birds swooped across the path and sang, hidden, in the distant trees. A chorus of raspy voices from unseen bugs lifted from the garden like some nature orchestrated symphony. Several poles topped by radiating bulbs lighted the way along the path. I felt like I was dreaming. The surroundings were just that surreal, and I caught myself wondering if any of it was real.
The pathway led me to the front doors of the simply constructed building. The brick walls rose about twenty feet into the air. A wooden roof domed the circular building. One Hour was inscribed in the surface of the dark doors. I knocked on the thick wooden double doors, but the sound was muffled, and I was afraid I wouldn't be heard. I started to knock again, but the door suddenly opened, and I was allowed to enter.
"Hello. You must be Mr. D'Angelo. I am Mysol."
All I knew about Mysol before I met him was that he was Indian. I had no ideas beyond that of his appearance.
Mysol was a head shorter than me, maybe five foot four inches tall. He wore a loose, long-sleeved white shirt and billowing white pants. Thin-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. He was plump, with a round stomach and fleshy arms. His face was clean shaven and wrinkled, his hair short and gray. He moved in a light, bouncing manner as if he walked on clouds. He looked about sixty years old.
"Hello Mysol. It's a pleasure to meet you."
I shook his hand and noticed how soft his skin was, like the flesh of a new born baby. He smiled. Something about his smile stunned me. It was bright, it seemed to radiate with light and strength. I later discovered that his smiles and laughter professed profound joy.
Mysol led me inside into the foyer. A hanging chandelier dimly lit the small room. Two plush sofas sat against the walls. A reception podium stood in the center of the room. A set of closed double doors across from the entrance bore the words Dining Room.
"Is there anywhere in particular you would like to be interviewed..."