We stepped outside, Laura and I, our arms loaded down with takeout boxes, protected by an invisible force field of fennel, anise, clove and curry smells that pushed back the gray ugliness of another suburban parking lot in another suburban strip mall. Before us were too many SUVs, greasy puddles full of rainwater, the peeling wall of a Benihana -- but all that seemed distant, incapable of intruding on our tiny world of spice and magic. We stepped off the sidewalk and onto the asphalt, Laura's arm brushing mine, and noticed that the woman from the flower shop was standing out front, talking on her cell phone, eyes fixed on the sky. Two men from the cigar store at the end of the mall stood silently by that door, hands in pockets, looking up. A couple outside the pharmacy next to India's was doing the same -- him pointing, her head on his shoulder. So we looked up out of our private world and saw the rainbow, too. It was a big one, full end to end, and brilliantly colored like a rope of hard candy against the retreating... More >>>