They are bastions of light. They are cigarettes, lottery tickets, rat traps and candy bars. They are aspirin and alcohol, Chinese food and churros and, of course, pizza and beer. They are home to the essential items of life; home to the creature comforts that attack our belly and our mind at two o'clock in the morning. They are a maquette of an urban existence; an Indian man hustling his wares behind two inches of bulletproof glass plastered with 3 years of winning lottery tickets. The owners, having shut down for the night, shuffle themselves upstairs while a cat hunts silently in the hard glow of an awning that is repeated endlessly on countless corners throughout the city. These are bodegas; they are Chinese food and barbershops ; they are mini marts, pizza joints and gas stations. They are indispensable to us and essential to the city; they act as beacons guiding us through dark streets, they are islands of light.