Summer has been so hectic this year and yet destiny has a way of bringing me along to where I need to be. I’m a bit embarrassed to share that I’ve lived in Maine now for 15 years and never once been up to Bar Harbor.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, a dear friend, Alyne Cistone, invited me to join in the annual Annual Seal Harbor Library Fair and launch my simmer sauces in the Bar Harbor region for the first time. I woke up at 4:45 am and drove from Boothbay to Seal Harbor, close to 3 hours. The sunrise was spectacular and for the most part I felt like I had the road all to myself, even in the peak of summer. When I got there I felt like I was in a Chris Van Dusen illustration, – perched on a hill, right next to a tree dedicated to David Rockefeller, overlooking Seal Harbor beach. I set up and was soon surrounded by the nicest folks fielding questions about the brand, my story, the sauces, Mumbai and my life in Maine. I sampled and sold jar after jar.
I found out I had missed out on Martha Stewart who was waiting to come up to my table but respectfully waited as I had a bit of a crowd, and then left. Martha, happens to live around the corner, up on the hill, in her famous Skyland estate. As destiny would have it, her neighbor stopped by my table to sample and offered to take some sauces over to her. Alyne, kindly drove me over to drop them off and then off we went to a lovely lunch overlooking yet another dreamy Harbor view.
Later that afternoon, as I was starting to fray, Alyne convinced me to join her as her plus one at an event for The College of the Atlantic. She’s been on their Board of Trustees for years. On merely a few hours of sleep and a long ride ahead of me back to Boothbay, I just knew I had to say yes.
It was ironic to see Martha Stewart this time, at the event, only a few hours later. I was more interested, however, in the young man who gave us a golf cart ride to the estate. A refugee from Syria, he went to boarding school in Mumbai, on a full scholarship and then earned another Davis fellowship and moved from Mumbai to the College of the Atlantic, Maine.
Raheem Khadour, with a gleam in his eye, went on to share that he’s slated to study with one of the world’s leading cardiac researchers, Nadia Rosenthal. He’s training to be a surgeon at MDI hospital one day.We were both having a moment where our world’s came together: Raheem a (brilliant) refugee and me, an immigrant who calls Maine home now. We were both under that one tent with some of the most brilliant, successful leaders, academics and entrepreneurs in the world and we had Mumbai and Maine in common.
As I was leaving the party, I felt an urge to go up to the man who hosted it – Bill Stewart (no relation to Martha). I asked him for one piece of advice on what to do and what not to do as I build my brand. His eyes lit up and he sat right up in his seat and we got chatting about Mumbai to MAINE. He went on to say he’d report back to me about that piece of advice now that he knew more about my vision. I said, “ You, Bill Stewart, are going to report back to me?” And he said, “ Yes!!!”
Take a guess, yes, Bill Stewart did get back to me and followed up again and again to check in.
I’m still thinking about my dear friend Alyne, who opened up doors for me that lovely summer day and introduced me to the amazing Seal Harbor community, all her friends, her incredible son JJ, Ebenezer Akakpo, local merchants, and for the sauces that somehow went into Martha Stewart’s hands and in her Maine Kitchen.
I’m sharing this story because so much can happen in the possibility of one blessed day. Follow your intuition and let in the grace of God’s favor.Through the kindness of way makers like Alyne, like Martha’s neighbor, Raheem (who will one day pay it forward) and hey even the diligence of a billionaire businessman, Bill Stewart, who kept his word, Expected the Unexpected!
20 hours later, I drove home from Seal Harbor with a grateful heart. It was past midnight. I’ve never felt closer to my God given destiny and the beauty of Maine.
Thank you Alyne Cistone for your heartfelt hospitality, willingness to knock on doors and being a tremendous MDI ambassador.