Lunch at the Taj Mahal

Esther and Ezra had a standing date once each month.

They ate lunch at the Taj Mahal in the East

Village, Esther’s favorite restaurant. She invariably ordered lamb. She was

a creature of habit. The Taj Mahal was a cellar

restaurant that one entered by walking down a flight of

stairs. Below the city, the air was still. Occasionally, the

sound of a fire truck siren burst onto the stone

walls echoing through the dining room. Today Ezra comments on

the murals, “Good old FDR and the WPA.” Esther smiles.

The enchantment of the images in the dim light bewilders.


Daniel Dehpour Makes a Promise to his Daughter, Esther

All her life Esther remembered an afternoon from her childhood.

She was waiting for her father, the person she loved

most in the world. When he arrived she rushed into

the warmth of his arms. Esther delighted in her father’s

laughter and tenderness, and his stories of exotic travel, of

trekking through India, of the beauty of the Taj Mahal.

One day, he promised, he would take her there and

they would see it together. Her father never kept his

promise, but Esther treasured the memory of it for the

rest of her life. It was imprinted in her brain.


Paraphrases from the PBS Series American Experience: Eleanor Roosevelt.
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A Tunnel Near the Front

The air is still. Here, in the tunnels, it’s quiet.

Occasionally, the sound of a water droplet bursting feebly onto

stone echoes through the chamber. Somewhere, somehow, moisture is getting

in. But for the most part, it’s dry. We are

safe, underground, in the comforting darkness. We are perfectly safe

here and can sleep as securely as if we were

in a palace. Small arms fire continues outside. We light

a simple candle. Murals of great age are found on

the walls. The enchantment of the images in the dim

light bewilders. The dull sound of distant explosions is unrelenting.
Paraphrases from the article “The Lost Tunnels Buried Deep beneath the UK” by Chris Baraniuk and The Outhouse War and Other Kibbutz Stories by Shimon Camiel.