Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nawab & Zoellner Arts Center

When gazing at the Zoellner Arts Center's (420 East Packer Avenue, on Lehigh's campus in South Bethlehem) 2006-2007 calendar last May, I picked out a few shows, paid the nice lady, pocketed the tickets, put the dates in the calendar, and quickly forgot what I'd ordered.

I recently realized that the Anoushka Shankar concert was coming up, and made plans to go to Nawab (13 East Fourth St., South Bethlehem) beforehand and feast on Indian before hearing "Indian music." I call, and learn that they don't accept reservations for parties of two. I plan to go early to meet my friend.

When we get there at a quarter-til six and the place is jumping. We get a sub-prime table, as in, the one right next to the restrooms and kitchen door, but we don't complain. We study the menu like we'll be tested on it in five. When the server finally gets around to us, we are ready - and we order enough food for four people. The food, as usual, is excellent. The doors barely distract us as we dive nose-first into the dal and curries. Yum. The couple at the table next to us (we guess) was on their first date, and guessing by one comment I overheard, it sounds like they knew each other before one or both of them married. "I have a few gray hairs," he says. "At least you have something to show for your experience," she says politely. "Yes, all three of my kids are also proof," he replies. Awkward silence.

On Fillmore Street, we notice that it's awfully dark on the Hill. The doors are open, but the ushers are loitering in the lobby. "Power's out," we're told. "Hang tight." As the rest of the audience arrives, speaking softly and seeking out seats in areas lit by emergency lights, we see First Date couple. I wonder if they've run out of things to say. The show's postponed until Tuesday, the kind and certainly frazzled Zoellner staff person tells us, and I can't help but to think - I'm so glad I wasn't coordinating this event.

Then - nothing happens. We are astonished. No rioting, no throwing of objects, no arguing, not even a loud side comment to make the staff uncomfortable, just the polite shuffle of feet and quiet conversations. We're in the Lehigh Valley, and gosh darn it, people are so civilized.

** Side note, we attended the concert last night and Ms. Shankar was grateful to US for returning to the show - imagine! And my eighth-grade social studies teacher was the usher who gave us our programs. More civilization! What planet am I on?!

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