I am writing the post below about a sweet little boy turned young man and about the Valentine’s day pancakes he made his sweetheart. The story about the sweet little boy is from my recollections and what I’ve thought about over the years and some of it might not be quite right. Forgive.
Here we go. When Alex was a cute little boy in first grade at Roosevelt Elementary School he made a new friend named Omar. Omar was the new kid in the class. He was from India. I adored Omar. He was beautiful and compelling and necessarily very independent and he was just a lovely, sweet little guy.
Omar lived with his father Mansour in a nice house that was easy walking distance from school. The inside of the living room was painted beautiful warm colors of yellow and orange and red. You could see the inside of the room from the street as you drove by. Before I knew who lived there, I wondered about that room every time I drove down the street on the way to school – which was every day.
As a result of Alex and Omar’s friendship I got to know Mansour – Omar’s father. Mansour was a very interesting man. He had owned pizza parlors in San Francisco and when he sold them he took his money and himself back to India and he became a spiritual man – a yogi and a teacher. Mansour eventually came to Santa Monica, California with Omar – I’m not sure why but it might have had something to do with Omar’s mom Sharmin being in this area. Sharmin was a lovely woman. I always enjoyed her. We shared some moments and she gave me some insights. Mansour enrolled Omar in the local elementary school where our kids met, and Mansour began teaching yoga to the moms.
Mansour convinced me to come to yoga class at his house. I was resistant. I had never done yoga before but Mansour reassured me that he could teach me and that it would be fine so I went and it was – it was so fine (and it turned out that the yoga studio was that beautiful yellow orange red room). I liked yoga so much that I went all the time to yoga class. Sometimes it was just me in the class and sometimes there were others there too – maybe 8 people or so. It was a really nice group. It was really mellow yoga and Mansour was a good teacher. I loved my morning yoga. I would drop Alex off at school and walk over to Mansour’s house and do yoga. I did it every day during the week – most days – and on the days I didn’t go, I would do 12-rounds of Sun Salutation in my living room before getting the day going.
This was during a period of time when I was working at home. I had become disenchanted with my work as a family law lawyer and burnt out and I just couldn’t do it any more. I left my office behind and I started doing contract work for other lawyers from home and I was trying to put together an arts education center for the Los Angeles School District at the old Otis Parsons school of design. My days were my own, unstructured and my schedule was flexible so an hour and a half of yoga every day was doable.
And then there was Omar. I just loved that kid. He’d come over and play with Alex and stay until his Dad was done with his things and sometimes he’d stay over. It seemed like Mansour had a lot of irons in the fire and lots of stuff to do besides the yoga class so Omar would come with us whenever we could. Omar was amazing. He knew how to do things that most 6 and 7-year olds don’t know how to do – like getting his own food. Like knowing how to be patient. Stuff like that.
I had been doing yoga for months when one day Mansour asked if I wanted to learn how to meditate. Yes. Why not. Mansour gave me my mantra and I meditated. Wow. The thing about the meditation is that my grandma – Nanny – did TM. She had a heart attack at a young age and was told that she could die. Somehow she found her way to Transcendental Meditation and she always felt that it had saved her life. Perhaps it did. She was a devoted meditator. In fact, went to her death never having revealed her mantra. Devote. Every morning and evening you could find Nanny sitting in a chair with her eyes closed – meditating. She proselytized too. Wanted us all to meditate. As far as I know, none of us grandkids ever mediatated until that moment when Mansour taught me. By then Nanny was gone so I couldn’t tell her that I finally understood. That’s the way of the world right? That’s one of my sadnesses. There aren’t a whole lot of those but that’s one of them. She just wanted ONE of her family members to share TM with her. Well here I am!
So there I was, doing yoga every day and meditating with Mansour every day. The whole thing – all in – including driving to school was about a 4-hour commitment. That was cool. I was so happy. I was super mellow. I was totally broke. There wasn’t enough time to work with a schedule like that! By the time I finished my routine, went home and showered and dressed it was time to go back to school to pick Alex up. Oh well…. Never mind work. And that’s how it was for a good while.
But the story isn’t over….. not by a long shot. One day Mansour asked if I wanted him to do my horoscope. Why not right? I was a single mom with a job I wasn’t grooving on and not enough money and I was trying to figure out what to do next. So why not. I thought the horoscope might provide insight or guidance. Mansour took my birthday and birth hour and location of birth and a couple weeks later he was ready to tell me what was what. We met. We sat. I remember exactly where we were (in my garden at the picnic table with cups of steaming hot tea). He was very relaxed (actually he always seemed very relaxed). He was pleased. He told me I would be too. What he told me shocked me. He told me that I was going to get married again to a very very wealthy man and that I was going to have quite a few more children. He said that I was going to continue to be a lawyer but that I was going to be the head of a very large corporation and that I would be very well off all on my own and very happy and very important. He said scores of other things as well but that’s what stuck.
Of course I suspected immediately that something had gone awry. I just knew he was wrong. I lived with it for a day or so and then I told him that I thought the horoscope was wrong and he must have mistaken the date or time or something. He felt certain but he said he would check and low and behold. He had. He had swapped the p.m. when I was born for an a.m. He said he would re-run it. He did. And then he declined to meet with me to review it. No matter how much I bugged him and cajoled him – he simply refused. THAT is NOT auspicious when the dude who runs your horoscope won’t tell you what it says. The only inclination I had of my future was that Mansour often told me that he thought I should do what I know – return to what I know – divorce lawyer – and to go back and earn a living doing just that. Which is exactly what I did and what I have been doing for all these years since First Grade (Alex’s). It’s been fine and in fact I have to say that life itself has been an absolutely blast.
Back to the story. I can’t remember how long Omar lived here. One year, two years. That time blurs together. But one day, I went to yoga and Mansour told me that he and Omar were going back to India. He told me that something bad had happened to him but that he would not talk to me about it. I gave him the respect of privacy and didn’t interrogate him as I am known to do. I never learned. Within a week he was gone. So was Omar. I only heard from Mansour once after that. That was it. It left a big hole in my life – those two gone. Nothing to be done. I didn’t do yoga again until last year. 14 plus years later. But I never forgot those two. I got word one time from a woman named Margarite who was a good friend of Mansour’s. Margarite said that Mansour and Omar were still in India and that Omar was in boarding school. I had some feelings about that – he was so young and all and I just never knew anyone to go away so young. But there wasn’t anyone to talk to about it. They were all gone.
I spent the better part of this afternoon looking for old photos. Looking for a photo of Omar to put on this blog but I couldn’t find one. I found a lot of other things but no Omar. So just imagine. . ..
But believe it or not…. The story isn’t over yet. Just when Alex was graduating college I think, he told me that he and Omar had connected on facebook. Wow! That brought a smile to my face for sure. I did a ‘friend request’ – something I’m loathe to do and guess what? Omar accepted it. He was really out there alive and well in the Bay Area! Now the thing is, of course Omar didn’t know how emotional it was for me to find him – he would have no way of knowing that – he was just a little kid when he left and I was just the mom of one of his friends. But it was awesome and lifted my spirits past where they generally soar. We are to this day facebook friends and I get updates about Omar and Omar’s folks from time to time. Omar does stand up comedy AND he’s in graduate school. We are all proud.
On Valentine’s Day I saw a post about the pancakes that Omar made for Jenni. Jenni is Omar’s girlfriend. I couldn’t resist. I had to put this story up. I asked Omar for the recipe and his response was ‘bisquick.’ So there you go. Bisquick pancakes with whipped cream and berries. What could be more better or more delicious on Valentine’s day than to be brought that gorgeous creation to your bed by your honey.
Cheers Omar! Good work all around. Love having you back in our lives even if it’s on the screen!
Omar’s Pancakes Recipe
2 cups Bisquick from the box
1 cup milk
Whipped cream from a can
Maple syrup – maybe. You probably don’t need it with a creation like this.
Mix together bisquick, egg, milk and stir but not too much. You want lumps.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat and grease with a neutral oil, canola or grapeseed or spray the pan with non-stick stuff.
You know when the skillet is hot enough because a little water will dance on the surface.
Pour as much as you want into the pan depending on how big you want your pancakes.
Cook until the bubbles start popping. Using a spatule lift an edge of the pancake and if golden brown, flip over. If not, cook a bit more.
Check the underside. When golden, pancakes are done.
Put the pancakes onto a plate and decorate with whipped cream and strawberries – just like Omar did for Jenni – or if you prefer, melted butter and maple syrup.