Sunday, November 27, 2005

Big Chicken

That was the rough translation of the word ‘turkey’ in dari, at least as we non-speakers in the house figured. Part of the word sounded roughly like “murgh”, and that’s the word for ‘chicken’ in urdu, so it all sounded believable to me. My mom was surprised to hear that we had turkey for dinner. She had never seen a turkey when she was growing up in this part of the world. When I was telling my mom the dari word, she said the word for ‘peacock,’ that sounded much more like the word in dari, she suspects that is what we had for Thanksgiving.

Our Chief of Party (“Chief” from now own…and he deserves much thanks for arranging a great dinner, though of course our cooks deserve the most) and some of my housemates had difficulty in trying to explain what a turkey was to our cooks. The cooks, coyly, asking why we wanted to eat a Turkmen, and who was going to go to the border. Oddly, they didn’t ask how to cook a human. So two housemates went out shopping for turkeys, and they said they found them. All I saw was meat on a platter. Peacock, turkey, rooster or a big chicken…the meat on the platter was good.

Besides the lack of football, it was nearly picture perfect…all the fixins, ‘cept cranberry sauce.

Our cooks are wonderful, as I’ve said before. The pumpkin pie was amazing, that’s what being trained in a French bakery will do. I ate well.

I met the rest of the team. Once sedated, and satiated, we had some great conversations about our work and our takes on the state of affairs here…all the usual ex-pat/development topics: aid, corruption, colonialism, cultural communication, literacy, human nature, blah blah blah.

The next day I went to the Friday market at the Kabul Compound, watched U.S. soldiers get over charged, got overcharged myself, and walked away with a bunch of DVDs. Two out of 5 work, I felt like I made out pretty well. Much of the streets I get to see when driving around Kabul look like the same.

All fortified walls and razor wire, a booth out front and men with AKs.

Well, work goes on. The days are getting short. The snowcaps on the mountains are getting long. The next post will return to our regular scheduled profound-itry.

A happy belated thanksgiving to everyone. I hope you all had a good time.


rachel said...

We had Afghan food last night (The Helmand, an Afghan restaurant in SF, is run by Karzai's brother; they have another shop in Boston).

I really, really, really will owe you if you can scrounge up the recipe for kaddo (baked pumpkin with yogurt sauce). Oh my lord, that was divine.

Happy Native Genocide day!

Anonymous said...

Call Thanksgiving "Native Genocide day" is retarded.

Anonymous said...

Strike that -- it is like retarded.

Shannon said...

Happy Thanksgiving.

I thought Native Genocide Day was Columbus day. Maybe I was mistaken.

Q. A. Shah said...

I'll try to score you that recipie, and other pumpkin ones. I don't think our cooks measure stuff, though. I'll try to get the ingredients at least. Rachel, see the comment back to Shannon.

We had this discussion i thought. you can take it up with rachel directly if you must. But please conjugate verbs correctly if and when doing so.

I thought the same. Back in my punk house days, I remember silk-screening t-shirts on columbus day, not t-day. everyone loves t-day. besides, as, umm...Anonymous said to me just recently, "Everday is National Genocide Day." That's fairly accurate, right Rachel?


Greg said...

First, Cew-ay, I’ve been wondering. What’s up with the initials? Does anyone actually call you “Q.A.”?

Second, shouldn’t we be more cautious before inferring an error on Anonymous’s part? Shouldn’t we gather more facts first? Maybe, for example, Anonymous’s first five words together compose a single compound noun, which is “Call Thanksgiving Native Genocide day” (known to those of us in the business as “CTNGD”). Anonymous’s message, under this reading, would be that “CTNGD is retarded” -- a sentiment that, understandably, you might not share, but certainly one unworthy of grammatical contempt.

I myself am ambivalent about CTNGD. Yes, CTNGD has the potential to offer up some interesting and not entirely unsavory possibilities, but even I must concede that it’s a nuanced, ambiguity-fraught subject. I say this to distinguish “Call Thanksgiving Native Genocide day” from the act of calling Thanksgiving “Native Genocide day” -- which is, like, retarded.

But the syntactical innocence of CTNGD (the compound noun) is not to be gainsaid. And it’s my hope that you’ll cease cruelly stifling Anonymous’s important textual exegesis.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

rachel said...

Quasim - Yes, I agree, it would be accurate to call every day National Genocide Day here in the states. On the other hand, we make a special point of celebrating just how lucky we are to have (seized) this fine, fine land (by force) (from its original inhabitants). Hence my flippant, not-intended-to-be-shit-stirring comment.

For the record, however, there are plenty of people who do not love how the history of Thanksgiving is taught, and who therefore do not love the holiday. Personally I love the food, but that could be any Jewish holiday.

I do apologize for hijacking your blog a bit, which is why I'll refrain from feeding the trolls.

Jado said...

I'm seriously begining to think the Indians and the "Pilgrims" weren't as close as friends as I always though they were. Wasn't this country built (siezed) on the idea that love, friendship and occupation of another's land can coexist?

jado said...

Did i word that right? You get the idea.

Q. A. Shah said...

The "Kew-ay" thing, no, no one has actually ever called me "Kew-ay" in person. I'm trying to change that. I figured leaving D.C. for an extended time and using that as my sign-off would help to encourage others to call me "Kew-ay". I also think it's appropriate for the pretension of my posts, the middle initial is clutch in that matter. I must ask, why a "C" rather than a "K"? No syntactical questions here, merely phonetical.

And your reading of Anon's post is, in the least, as valid as mine, more gracious than mine. Further, it does allow for a textual exegesis that i presumptively gainsay. I had insider information that made me inclined to read the post a certain way. It was foolish of me to allow authorial intent and social context to cloud my interpretation of the text.

Don't worry about hijacking the blog. It'll will keep me from posting long musings on the allegories and metaphors of kite flying in kabul. Thank you for contributing to that effort. Before coming here, i pledged not to write about kites, but it's nearly impossible here. I knew the comment was flippant, I've been on the flipped end of your comments plenty. I'll grant you, we don't get a good education on the history of Pilgrims in elementary school, but besides the bad costumes we make 7 year olds wear, have most people removed that element? My immigrant family has. Other immigrant families have too. Surprisingly we don't relate to white guys from over 300 years ago.

They were wonderful friends sharing the great bounty of a fall harvest. Then they went back to killing each other a week or so later.

I like your framing of the founding ideals of this country, I can't recall ever hearing put that way. Hell, we're still trying to do that to this day. A living ideal for this country, since we're dropping those constitutional "rights" day by day. But don't let this taint your newly acquired citizenship! The passport is useful, remember that.

Signing Off,

asiyah said...

I don't quite know how I used my first and last name on this post. I clearly am not an accomplished troll.

Another failure in my life.

Q. A. Shah said...

Welcome, I'll gladly take more visitors and comments on the blog. And you're right, I should have included that translation too on the post. It slipped my mind at the time, another failure in my life. But, both were bantered around. And on the name thing, so you've lost your anonymity, I encourage you to adopt the initials format, start a trend. And the mistake thing, you should be well at home here, fit right in.

Signing Off,

jojo said...

went to hear Calexico play with Iron & Wine at the 930 last night. benny j, his sis "Sue Ellen," and I tipped our glasses to you in thanks for introducing us to Calexico. i don't want to get too sentimental here, but you are greatly missed.
i don't want to rub it in further, but the 5-hour Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae (plus K-naan, etc.) show was also phenom. hurry back.
i have stuff (tangible objects) to send you, KewAy. how do i do that?