Our Town: Sweet dreams made at R&P Convenience Store

Dr Tom Ferraro

“Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree

I travel the world and the seven seas

Everybody’s looking for something”

From ‘Sweet Dreams are made of this’ by the Eurythymics

If you want to find a place where people are “looking for something,” just go visit R&P Convenience Store between Hildebrandt’s and Blue Sushi on Hillside Avenue.

I have been buying the Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Williston Times for years there and thought it was about time I do a little ditty on them. I spent two hours this past Saturday hanging out and interviewing the owner Chura Kathuria. And what I learned was that most of the customers who enter this little shop all have a “dollar and a dream.”

You got it. They all have a dream of hitting it big with the Lottery. Who knew? I assure you I have only spent two dollars on a lottery ticket and that was about 10 years ago. 

I was convinced that I had the magic number and put down my $2 in Manhattan. I was stunned to find the next day that I did not win. That was it for me. But not for these brave and resilient souls. They all would buy about $15 worth of tickets. Turns out that just the night before someone did win $3,600 in her store. So what do I know?

Chura is there hard at work 11 hours a day seven days a week. She gets help from her two sons Garvit and Ananay. The family moved here from New Delhi, India about two years ago. Chura is very educated with a masters in public administration and worked for the U.S. Embassy in India for 20 years. 

This convenience store offers more than just lottery tickets and the dream of instant wealth. I noticed all my childhood favorites including Mars  candy bars, Milky Ways, Snickers and Life Savers. I remember they cost me a nickel.  She told me they go for a $1.25 now. Inflation.  

And as I hung out who should walk in but my buddy Bob Micelli who scouts out good leads for me. He tells me I ought to do something on Johns Variety Store and I ask if John is Irish. Yes he is!. 

I want to do a piece exploring the magic of the Irish and plan on asking John Riley of Grasshopper Comics and that pretty blonde woman from East Williston who has an Irish brogue. Tell her to call me if you know who she is. And if not her I would like to hear from any Irish folk who either live or work in Williston Park.

And all I know about Indian culture is that a suitemate of mine is an Indian social worker and that I enjoyed “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Bend it Like Beckman.”  I know from these films that Indian culture may be a little suffocating and that may be why some Indians seek out the relative freedom of America.  

But Chura sees as I see that we all work very, very hard for this freedom of ours. She works seven days a week and I assure you so do I.  And with all this work that we all do  who can blame her customers from coming in with a dollar and a dream. A dream to find an easier way to achieve some happiness.

I guess everyone has that dream of the big win in America. Her customers dream of hitting the big one in Lotto and I dream of winning the Pulitzer Prize. So what’s so different between me and them?  Not much really.

But I say this. In the unlikely event that I don’t win the Pulitzer and her customers do not hit the jackpot we had all better find some solace in the sacred world of the ordinary right here in Williston Park.  Like walking down Hillside Avenue on a nice day in spring and bumping into a few friends.   

Isn’t that a sweet enough dream?  I think it probably is.

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