A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Speaking of South Asian Politics...

... scary happenings abroad. Hey, I'm moving to Pakistan. Great.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Unrealpolitick

South Asian Politics. Wow. My first course after A-100 has been with Stephen Dachi, a distinguished former FSO who has catapulted himself into my top-ten lecturer list. We listen to him for seven hours a day (roughly) and he is phenomenal, working off few notes, cracking the class up with some great off-color statements and anecdotes, and providing Kissinger-esque realpolitick insights into the world of South Asia. I thought I knew a little about South Asian Politics, but I was wrong. It's a startling world of living history and illogic that no two week course can do justice to, but Dachi is trying. It's definitely fascinating stuff, though some of his insights into Pakistan are a little scary.

We spent an hour today on Afghanistan, in which we learned that it's basically a libertarian's dream. Hey you Unabomber/militia types? Why are you still in America? Move to Kandahar or Herat -- no taxes, no gun control, little central government, and now that pesky Taliban is gone. Sure your wives might not like it as much, but they can learn to deal.

More on South Asia later. I just looked at the clock and beer calls.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Little Service, Inshallah

There are bad times to go to a Pakistani restaurant, like just after sundown during Ramadan. Those devout Moslems love their iftar and eat like woah. Of course, I had forgotten this when I suggested to the rest of the Pak Pack that we dine at Ravi Kabob Monday night. Cold, rainy, a perfect night for some kabob action -- but alas, the restaurant was more crowded than the great mosque during the Hajj (not that I'd know; am not allowed, have only seen pictures, and man is it crowded).

But the food, it was worth it. Damn good kabobs, and the rest of the Pakistan group concurred. I had the lamb chop, which was good, but made better by the delicious yogurt dipping sauce and a cool Maaza on the side. The naan was blisteringly hot, and the selection was far greater than Food Factory. However: the customer service was decidedly lacking. The servers would put your food on the counter, yell your number offhand, and then wander away. If you don't pay attention, or if the restaurant is even slightly loud (and during this particular iftar it was), you're close to SOL. So bring a wing man to watch for the both of you.

I'd rate Ravi Kabob a step below Food Factory because of service issues. The food was slightly better, though the naan is better at FF. The selection is wider, but not having tried anything more than the bone in lamb chop I can't comment. The prices are a bit higher, but the portions are much bigger. Location is a trump -- but it depends, here, on where you are. It's walking distance from FSI so I may be back after Ramadan ends.

In other news, my personal terror alert level is nearing "bloodcurdling." There's so much to do before January, and a number of people (important people) have not been in touch with me in regards to some rather vital concerns. In the mean time I'm occupying myself with thoughts of cleaning, though certainly not the real thing right now (pshaw). My tutoring is most likely over, alhumdullilah, leaving me some more time on the weekends for the regular tasks. But still: this is the big drawback to being a local and moving so soon. I have not the foggiest where to start as far as what to toss, what to keep, and frankly, where to start.

Friday, October 21, 2005

That Stuff You Make Syrup From


Dean Acheson Auditorium
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
So I'm now an official officer of the U.S. Foreign Service. It would be lying to say that I didn't well up a bit today. I have met some of the most impressive and interesting people ever in the past seven weeks, people that I know will be friends for life. Now we're scattered to the four winds, but we'll be close in heart forever.

If anyone from the 126th is reading, thank you. You have been some of the greatest people I've ever met. Some of you are coming out to Pak with me, while 89 of you are headed elsewhere -- but I know no matter what a bond has been forged that is forever.

Also, thanks to Danny at Notti Bianche. What a great lunch.

Anyway, peruse my flickr stream for additional swearing in pictures. You know you want to, at the very least to look at pics of my super cute parents. Reenee, I miss you so much. We toasted to you today; oddly, in future years, it will probably be me that you, Ma, and Baba toast to.

The great adventure that is life lays ahead.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Reactive

Today was my hometown Bengali association's celebration of Durga Puja, an event that kind of boils down to a mix between Christmas, a family reunion, an Amish barn raising, and a tapir. It's a good time, soggy french fries and all, but I wasn't looking forward to dealing with the legions of fake aunts and uncles barraging me and my parents with questions about my career path.

(note to probably all except Reenee: because we Indians rarely come to the country with blood relations, extremely close ties are forged with our linguistic community, in our case Bengalis. I've known many Baltimore Bengalis since the day I was born and commonly refer to all of them as "mashis" and "kakus," the Bengali equivalent of "aunt" and "uncle." For more information, see Lahiri, Jhumpa, The Namesake, Houghton Mifflin, September 2003)

Mostly, the mashis and kakus were supportive, if a bit surprised. A few knew already and it was clear that the gossip chain was coming together. (I wouldn't be surprised if a random Bengali in Arkansas hears through the grapevine that I'm a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso in a week.) There were, however, some pretty funny questions. A choice selection:

"Make sure you don't come home with a Muslim girl." (predictable)

"Are you going to take out your earrings?" (ditto)

"Thank God, now you'll take out your earrings." (these people are direct!)

"What will you really be doing? (wink wink)"

"Now all of your mom's hair will fall out."

(multiple times)"Why couldn't you go somewhere more civilized like London/New Delhi/Sydney/etc.?"

"Are you crazy?" (yes)

Mom started to well up a few times, especially after someone noted that I wouldn't be coming to a Prantik Puja next year and that neither child will be on the same continent as their parents for a while. Oh was that fun to hear. Also amusing was the kaku who said to my mother "What did you do wrong? It's like your kids are itching to be as far away from you as possible!"

(note: the generic Bengali term for going abroad is "baye-ray," which generically means "outside." It's like they're Hobbits and think of anything outside of the Shire as outside their frame of reference. Often, people from outside the community (not to mention the country) are described as "outside people." Hilarious.)

To any Prantik heads that couldn't make it: the soggy fries were there, the khitchouri was tasteless, and the papadams didn't have enough masala, the prasad was the usual, and the aachaar was neither spicy nor sour enough.

Anyway, that hurdle is out of the way. It was nice to hear that apparently a party is being planned for me at some point with all of my fake cousins. Next up: Thanksgiving. That is going to be hella emo.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Well this is a Surprise


Well this is a Surprise
Originally uploaded by Kanishka.
Islamabad, Pakistan. January 2006. Wow.

Monday, October 10, 2005

T Minus 26.5 Hours

Good god... it's not long yet. I'm nervous as all get out. Or am I just starving? Probably a little of both.

Next blog post will include a flag. I promise.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mixed Nuts

1. Obligatory Food Content II
Kaz Sushi Bistro served up a pretty fine omakase sushi dinner on Saturday night. Highlights included fatty tuna with foie gras, sweet shrimp with tapioca pearls, and a piece of Japanese eggplant that was surprising. It's going to cost you a touch more than Kotobuki (by touch I mean a lot, friends) but I was splurging and it was worth it. 180 ml carafe of sake, omakase sushi plate (6 nigiri plus a roll), $45 with tax and (a big) tip.

2. State and Main
We're fast approaching the end of our time at A-100. The end of week 5 (Friday!) marks the beginning of a sea change in what occurs in class. That's (natch) because of Flag Day, but also because with our flags will come myriad different assignments, breaking the hundred-odd of us into smaller groups studying everything from motor pool operations to Amharic. It's kind of sad, really -- but we'll have happy hours to keep us together.

But what about in specific, you ask? Well, yesterday I had my Bengali test (did okay, half a grade less than I was hoping), took a trip to the Pentagon, and hosted a panel on counterterrorism at Main State. It was a pretty stressful day in terms of movement alone, though I am proud to say I believe I have the layout of the first floor of Foggy Bottom down. Tomorrow we have some lectures and a seminar on child abduction issues (a big deal for consular work, which we'll all have to do).

(deleted: the part where I wax rhapsodic about work and all that is good with it in comparison to the previous job, blah blah blah. I'm going to put a moratorium on that, thanks)

3. Famous for DC and Perhaps Otherwise
Monday afternoon I walked by Karl Rove in Main State (no, I did not hit/yell at/throw projectiles at him, sorry, to do so would probably be a violation). And yesterday a colleague and I saw George Will at the front desk waiting to get in. Haha, sucker: I got a badge.

4. Looking to the Future
God bless the American Government and its continued support for Italian AmericanColumbus Day. That means Monday for sleeping in and Sunday for some more partying. It's really my duty as a good American. Numerous parties seem to be dotting this weekend, as well as tutoring duties (which I am quickly getting tired of).

Also, I need to go on a run to purchase more ties. I have not repeated a tie through all of A-100 and may have enough to get me through next week without dipping into the novelty tie collection -- but Week 7 may be a challenge. Never thought I'd enjoy these nooses so much, but the ladies, they love them. Impetus enough to search for that perfect cravate.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Falter When You're the Rock of Gibraltar

Topic: Late Registration by Kanye West

Assertion: Though the album as a whole is innovative, catchy, and at times almost profound, the "Broke Phi Broke" skits add absolutely nothing to the album. The addition of the skits significantly detracts from the quality of the album as a whole, diminishing what could have been an easy A+ effort from Mr. West.

Discuss.