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All I wanted was a damn good chutney. About 12 years ago, I double-parked and ran into an Indian food restaurant located in a strip mall in my hometown. I’d had an incredibly long day at work and was craving comfort food and my sofa. When I blazed through the door, I was greeted by a man who stood about the height of my chin. He was the host, the cook, the waiter, and, as I quickly learned, he was also the owner.

He met my cyclone of an entry with a steady kind gaze, and then simply pressed his palms together at his heart, and with a slight reverent bow, said “Namaste.” I had heard the word before, of …