Thiru Kumar: Your Neighborhood Ambassador to Flushing


(As told to Sarah Weldon)

Thiru Kumar, NY Dosas Cart Operator

For my ingredients, I go to Gold City Supermarket (4631 Kissena Boulevard) and a couple of Chinese supermarkets. And in the park they have a greenmarket, where they bring stuff from upstate. You can go to Patel Brothers (42-92 Main Street) in Flushing, and then Gold City also has a little bit of vegetables, everything.

Since the World Trade Center, the neighborhood has changed. Before it used to be a small Chinatown; now it’s a bigger Chinatown. Because I’m vegan, I mostly go to Bodai Vegetarian (59-08 Main Street) — it’s very good. They have Singapore noodles, fake meats, soups.

And then the Flushing Ganesh Temple (45-57 Bowne Street) downstairs also sells vegetarian food. Mostly I get dosa. They know me, too — I used to work there.

My daughter went to a good school in Flushing — P.S. 24, then P.S. 201, then Francis Lewis High School, and then Columbia University. She liked the botanical garden (43-50 Main Street); Kissena Park is a very big park where she would always go. I like the Flushing YMCA (138-46 Northern Boulevard), so once in a while I go swimming over there.

The Flushing temple is one of the oldest in North America. It’s a Hindu temple, full Ganesh temple. They do music programs, a lot of culture. They have a community center right around the corner. When I came, it was small — now they have a parking lot, and like 750 people can sit in the temple.

There’s a seventeenth-century house on Bowne Street (Bowne House, 37-01 Bowne Street) that has a stone fence and stuff. And Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Boulevard) is pretty good — now they’re inviting Southeast Asians, doing a lot of events, bringing the community together. A lot of youngsters come to taste the food and understand Indian culture. The railroad comes to Main Street, so Long Islanders come too.

Rent is going high. I’ve been living there since I stepped into the United States, same zip code, 21 years. I tried to buy a house, but even just for the property, you cannot. I try to move to Long Island now, maybe, because my friends live there. A lot of people are moving, because it’s very hard, unbelievable.