Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Life Lessons from a Street Food Vendor

*originally published on medium

I had falafel on rice for lunch today- it was amazing, as always. I go to this halal guy every weekend. He recognizes me now.

He is from Turkey- he and his brother came to the states and set up a small Halal cart chain with six carts in Upper West Side. I have been eating from a lot of Halal carts across the city during my stay in New York, but I have to say that this fellow is by far the best I’ve come across- not because his food is the best, but because of the love and respect with which he treats his customers, and the energy and passion with which he does his job.

Today, we got talking a little more than usual. He asked me if I go to Columbia. I said, ‘no, I’m in the city for an internship.’ And then I added, hopefully someday I will.
‘Of course you will’, he said. ‘If you work hard, you can get anything in life.’ He went on, sounding like an elder brother: ‘My father always used to tell me that no matter what you want in life, work hard. No matter it is- your studies, your fitness, your job…always work hard. Even if you’re the smartest person, if you don’t work hard you won’t get anything… and now I know, my father was right.’At this point, I almost wanted to tell him: ‘thanks for the motivation, man, but what about you though?… you’re here selling me falafel for a living — don’t you want a better life? Why don’t you work hard?..’
Then, after a short pause, he started again, almost as if he had read my mind: he told me that he’s studying architecture in college- he attends college and studies on weekdays, and helps his brother with his business on weekends. Despite having school five days a week, he comes to work on weekends with a happy face, and treats customers with utmost care and respect… And I thought my life was hard. Hats off to this guy for doing what he does.
He showed me today that there are no excuses in life and no one to blame. Every morning is a fresh challenge. Either you learn to pick yourself up and fight or learn to surrender to it.
As an old Indian poet once said, ‘So long as there is life, there is struggle’

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