We set our clocks ahead for spring on Sunday. But with the ground covered with several feet of snow, the roads covered with black ice and temperatures below twenty degrees, I couldn’t bike to yoga. So I walked. A single car occupied the lot as I approached the studio; then a second and a third. But no sign of our 8:00 a.m. teacher. I kept warm by perambulating Fresh Pond Plaza’s back lot. I discovered a Cambridge Police car hangout behind a dumpster and checked out the thirty foot mountain of snow scraped against the railroad tracks. On the far side of the Apple Theater complex, a second run joint with gummy seats and $4.75 movie specials, I spied an auto garage in a deep corner. Thirty years in Cambridge and I’d never seen this place.
I approached. This is no ordinary auto repair shop. Tall steel sculptures sit before the concrete block box. There’s an array of signs between the two garage doors: Aladdin Auto; Notary Public Service; Spiritual Advice Service. Detailed text spilled under heading ‘In the Name of the Above’ all capped by a graphic of a mullah, thelighter.org.
I took a few photos. The tree-like sculptures are impressive. As I read the bullet points describing who thelighter will marry – most anyone with that inclination – a vintage Toyota station wagon rolled across the barren blacktop. Out stepped a man in a turban who resembled the guy on the wall draped in patterned scarves and vests. His face was weathered though handsome. He reached out to shake my hand. I slipped off my mitten. His grip was oven hot. Energy pulsed through me.
Mahmood Rezaei-Kamalabad introduced himself. He had stopped by to check the heat, apologized for not welcoming me inside, and invited me back during the week for tea. He explained the symbolism of the sculpture before us – a Christian cross supporting a menorah inscribed with the name ‘Allah’, all coexisting within the outline of a ten foot tall light bulb. I thanked him, returned my warm hand back its mitten and walked back toward the studio.
Still no sign of a teacher. The few others, tired of sitting in their cars with heaters on and exhaust flowing, shifted into gear and left. I lingered in the feint hope that someone would show, and then realized that I didn’t need to do any asana today. I had already experienced good yoga.
You can see Mr. Rezaei-Kamalalabad’s sculptures and read of his philosophy at thelighter.org. Or stop by far end of the Fresh Pond Plaza parking lot any weekday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. for tea. I may see you there.