Cookie Tong

It's Honey Box


Brian's night on the tewn

Sorry this weeks offerings are scant, I was lazy and not that much happened.

Today I ate at a the Turkish restaurant here in Kabul. Not too shabby. Ate my favorite kind of kebab (doner kebab) althought it was a little bit different and I actually like the French Algerian version better than the Turkish version but they are close. My friend joony ate it and also realized its tender taste and delicious melody of desire with which it carved a niche in his back.

Also our upstairs named (peter baek) is sort of rich compared to us and he has a tv tuner on his computer ,so yes yes yes we get to watch some beautiful afghan tv (actually just once so far) and the best show so far, is of course, the hop. It contains the most beautiful music videos with the most beautifully mustached men singing of their heart felt desires for the forbidden Turkish, Iranian, Indian, Pakistani, tajik, uzbek, Fill in the central asian blank woman, of their heart felt desireocity. And let me tell you it is sooooooooo goooooooooooooood. Also we watched part of this most excellent Iranian movie. I couldn’t understand it because my farsi/dari is still quite limited but it seemed to be about these one sinister guys in this car and then this guy and these two girls on the phone. My kind of movie I think.

I have been listening to a bit of Air recently and I was reminded again how weird it is that they are allowed to be cool. I mean I think they are great but I don’t think the general indie community's fathers listened to enough Vangelis for them to realize just how close Air is to that sort of thing, Kitaro, Shadowfax and mostly Vangelis, so super close to Vangelis, Air is teetering on the edge of being sigend to windham hill (new age music hotshot label, although not host to their closest kin Vangelis). But I kind of like Vangelis so it doesn’t matter.

Furthermore, Last night we had a small house party for our new office for some other Koreans we know and we had this awesome Korean barbegue chicken.


Man oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man.

Whew! Got sick there for a couple days, had some nice lying around on the back of my body on top of the earth thinking about sharp pain, not about “some boats” or whatever well people think about because I can’t remember what they think about because I am not one of them, I am not well, and I am not one of them at all. There is a good deal of Sharp sharp pain right now like a well placed (perhaps well meaning but its doubtful) shovel right there in the middle of the ol stomach. Mmm yes. Thanks. And also some most excellent diarrhea which is always fun when the toilet is all the pleasant way outside and doesn’t allow you to sit down as squatting is the way in which it enjoys despite your protests or those of your knees (hands on your knees, hands on your knees, one hop this time).

Furthering the dumbness of those several days is that we were invited by some rich guy to go out to eat at this fancy restaurant (most well named “the perfect restaurant”) at which we (everyone but me) enjoyed some weird but delicious pizza and several amazing kabobs and some nice rice. I had a tiny bit of each (just enough to know the food ruled) and a 7up (which was actually nice, I am always game for a 7up. yep.


Oh Chan, Oh Chan, Mirror!

There is this part in Rick's Hold (this song that Joe and Steven and I improvised once in a basement) where I’m singing “the palace is for knowledge the palace is for love" and "hey buddy come on in the palace" in this real dumb voice and then Joe says this really cool “all right” in a background-of-some-live-jazz type of way. It's a real good moment.

And then later when I say, "and that’s when the palace burned to the ground" there is this most beautiful chord which immediately follows and its so beautiful, and the palace burning is so beautiful and such a peaceful disaster.

Also there is this baby that lives upstairs of our new apartament and this baby, this baby has the most awesome vampire lung collapsing scream like an insane lion bird sucking all the blood and skin off your body with intense force and replacing it with pure evil and sometimes I think that if I had to die, that probably the best possible way would be for this baby to devour me.


Oh hey man, Just pouring some different colored liquids into inappropriately colored glasses...

And hey, what is going on with track 10 on the sun kil moon cd? Its so good and then at like the 4 minute mark or so, these stupid orchestra strings come in like it’s a Vanessa carlton song, It doesn’t ruin it but its just like what? And then maybe you realize that he knows something you don’t and you wonder what that is. And then you try to love those strings but you don’t yet, but then again you’re only 23.

Today I got this really nice green tradtional afghan bag. It’s maybe more of man purse, but its very nice and it even has bits of shiny plastic or glass sewn into it. It was a delayed birthday gift because my friend Joony’s birthday was a few days ago and he got one too, so they didn’t want to ruin it for him all bad-like on my birthday.

I had a series of three dreams the other day in church, the first one I was sorting these different sized cans, and I kept changing the order and it was really important, and then another were I was doing the same with bags (I have really been loving bags, lately and sometimes thinking about them all the time. I wish all my dreams would be about bags), and then a third where I was eating this just incredible blueberry and some other berry yogurt, that was the best yogurt I have ever had and I really want some now but I can’t get that here.

Speaking of church there is this international church that meets at random times and places every friday, so I have been going to that. It's actually a little bit boring and also I haven't made any friends there yet because I'm not good at doing that like that. But I'm trying. my strategy is to stand awkwardly alone somewhere looking confused and hope someone asks me a question, but they don't or at least not yet.


Ladle the salsa into either pint or half pint jars. You should end up with 4 or 5 pints, in pint jars, or 8 to 10 half pints, jars.

Actually, I seem to be having these bouts of nostalgia, mostly for things that aren’t real which is I guess mainly what nostalgia is. Its like how when you listen Stars of the lid: Tired Sounds of, or Sufjan Stevens or anything good, really, you get this longing for a place that doesn’t exist or maybe does but I’ve never been but I miss it anyway. And I really do miss America or really these weird flashes of generic Americana I keep having, you know things like bad representations of Mississippi delta blues or just someone with a nice haircut saying that phrase.

My brains keep being filled with these really bad tourist commercials for big cities with a saxophone and some city skyscape at night and then some laughing, old but not too old (say 60s) white people, and then a medium close up of some sizzling shrimp in a pan being tossed in the air for some reason, and then a too tight shot, completely awkward and artificially staged way to eat with your friends shot, of some black people and some white people (more white people though, but hey whose counting? God?) and one asian and/or one latino (doesn’t matter what kinds), laughing but not really, and they obviously really wouldn’t be friends but their love for the plain color no-logo shirts and khakis they are wearing have brought them together, and then for some reason there is more food thrown in the air along with some ice which is also thrown in the air, they accompany each other in being thrown in the air, thrown in air together at last, they are thrown in the air, thrown in the air, thrown.

And then there is a Lincoln town car commercial with all its suits and deserted downtowns and black cars and everything is dark in that sophisticated way that investment bankers/big and tall models/Gillette spokesmen enjoy. (speaking of Gillette, I had a dream in which Gillette featured an important part and it was a really great dream to tell someone but I can’t remember it. but you would laugh) and then there is an applebees or chilis commercial which is like the bad city commercial except without the saxophone and involves a lot more red.

Speaking of red! I really wish I could watch the movie, “In the mood for Love.” by Wong Kar Wai. If you haven’t seen it yet, and I know you haven’t, you need to find, rent, buy, steal, download it immediately. IT'S AMAZING! IT'S AMAZING. Please, you don’t understand, I can’t even believe its real, that’s how good it is, and last time I saw it was last july and I still think about it all the time, that’s how good it is. Wow. Please go. Its hard to find, I know but you need it for you life and for your eyes. Please go now. I really think you should go. No, I think you just should go right now.


IDC Back in Action, Live Spring Break '02, Sikeston MO!

I’m getting more used to being here and away. I am not so sad as I was at first although, sometimes thoughts keep crossing my mind, things to say things or jokes or words or root words or prefixes added to colors or names of candies or birds, or well placed objects or awkward guys carrying heavy loads, that I want to say to someone and sometimes I do say it and sometimes its understood and sometimes we have some huge bouts of laughter, enough to fill three bags. But other times I don’t feel I have anyone to say it to and writing it down doesn’t work, isn’t the way to go about it, doesn’t reflect it at all. You had to be there you see or something like that kind of deal. So instead they hover in my mind and I wonder whether to laugh or to think about something else and then maybe both happen and it is swept away never to be told or heard outside the bounds of brains, or more appropriately: my brains bounds.

I was listening to a lot of sun kil moon or mainly just the first two tracks really, but I’m unsure how, if you have any capacity for sadness within you, you could possibly listen to “carry me Ohio” or the cassius clay song and not feel some very heavy pressure in your organs and then think about some kind of video collage of over the rhine photography, you know like driving on some flat Midwestern road and then a worn out porch with a worn out dog, and maybe something burning and then different old peoples faces, mostly wrinkles and sometimes a hat, and then an old girls school photograph from 1918. This all makes your heart feel tied to some heavy bags of rice, until you learn to how to make it not feel like that and then they are just some darn good songs. This was easier back in the old US, sheltered by friends, hearts enlarged by nine or sometimes nineteen. Then if it was even there I could quite handily beat it back or neutralize. But sometimes here its too dangerous.

I becoming less and less shy around these new friends here, which is good, because as you may know I have a large box of joy which can be filled and spilled upon others, But it needs to be coaxed and encouraged by those around me, I need to bounce my face off the bodies of my friends, be carried as well as carry. I can be a shiny object floating in milk or a maybe even a brick with legs and detective hat, smiling, standing almost upright but actually if you pay attention, leaning at a slight angle. But I need others that know me to push me and bring me around and color me badd. I am not good at doing things alone and I kind of doubt that is the way its supposed to be anyway, at least for me, but I like to apply the things that are for me to everyone. Alone doesn’t work, isn’t healthy for my brains or hearts or brain’s hearts. Next time I go somewhere I’m not going to go there alone. But for now it is like this. I’m probably supposed to learn something from this actually, and then come back more prepared and better equipped with a firmer handshake and an upgrade from the silver boots to the gold boots, with an increased ability to jump or make pleasant comments or identify different trees.

But I’ve made friends and I’m not really alone anyway. So whatever. Like I said I’m getting better and quite adjusted. But I need to explode not just cope.


Bacha, Ech Paisa Na Darum : I don't have any money, Boy.

Furthermore our team coordinator was driving and then he bought a hawk for about 50 cents from this kid alongside the road and we were going to have as a pet but then he realized on the way home that didn’t have any kind of cage or anything to put in and then felt bad about putting it in a cage anyway and so he let it go. But we talked and I think that we can get a pet hawk for in the village! A pet hawk! A pet Hawk! Hawk! BOOYAH! Then people will come to us and say, "That’s a pleasant bird." and then we'll say, "Thanks it’s a hawk." and they will say, "I know." and I will say, "Me too, I also know in addition to you" "Yes I know about your knowledge powers. They're legendary." "Yes I know its that way because I was born with these lips." "Yes, they say your real live lips are dipped in gold and scented with basil." "Actually they are scented with apples." "Oh they didn’t tell me." "Yes I know." and then we will give high fives and go about our business.


A common afghan name for men is "Gul Bacha" which means flower boy. Also I hear that there is a kid in the village named Milk boy!

We visited our friend Hashim’s house. In case you had any doubt, Hashim is a beautiful man, and he also likes to give lots of hugs and kisses during greetings. Afghan greetings are incredible routines and they say several paragraphs worth of nice words for greeting. Actually we have two friends named Hashim and they are both steadfast and kind of heart, dancing lightly in place.

His house was the typical home of average afghans, just some mud and dirt and very bare for most of the house and then a guest room filled with cushions and blankets and rugs. And his Children! Beautiful namers from a milk covered Island! His youngest daughter, Habibila is the most beautiful combo every of Emma Gayed and a beautiful beautiful troll doll. For real, Joe ,this is really it. We’ve found a toddler that is an actual troll doll. So amazing. He also fed us this amazing food that was even better than our friend Ismael’s food. (In his face!)

I felt guilty though seeing his house and then staying in the nice office we are currently staying in. But soon we will move to a new office that is less fancy, although still better than his living conditions. But then I will soon move to the village and live in a house like Hashim and bathe in a river and wipe my butt with my hand and water (maybe). More on my feelings about the poverty here later perhaps.


Landmines are not a nice time or a nice dinner. Do you wish to have a nice dinner or a nice time? please choose one.

We went to Bagram, today (a city north of here, that is near the village I will live in and also a US airforce base.) It was great to see the country side and get out of the city, (I like the city though). But it was also sad because everywhere you go and look there are the forboding signs of the white and red marker stones indicating areas where landmines are. And Afghanistan, being the most heavily mined county in the world (estimated 5-7 million mines), means those stones are everywhere. Also its a little scary because there are always kids running around. In the Kabul province alone there are still about 150-300 landmine accidents each month. In the country side there are so many people missing limbs or with prosthetics. Its ecspecially sad to little 5 or six year olds with crutches missing a leg or an arm or both.


Then I was like, “This is the best time of the best moment in all the time being awake.” So we rose and we were like, “Yeah, it was this beast!”

And I was telling all these lies, okay? And well, I…would just like to have a nice time at the pond.

We got another dari teacher, today. So now we have two. They will alternate days.

She is very nice. Her name is chamilya or something. She feels a little awkward because she has never taught any males before (this is Afghanistan you know) but there is one girl (Hee Eun) in our group so it is okay to teach us. But she won’t come if Hee Eun won’t be here. But anyway I am excited to learn it up learn style and learn it up bad. I am a bad night at the dave and allie’s house. And I am excited to learn. We have homework now, which is funny and like school, but I actually like it. I think because I know it will be useful and I want to learn to speak dari. Bad nes! (dari for, "not bad")


I Wat Thiw Fosie! I Wat Thiw Fosie!

So, maybe you are wondering what a typical day looks like here for me. Well, for this month I am not teaching or doing much work other than studying history and culture stuff and most importantly learning the language and also developing the curriculum we are going to use. So anyway here is a typical day:

6 or 7 am – Wake up. that’s right. Early central. Wake up at 6 if you are breakfast duty, 7 if you are not. If you are breakfast duty one of you beautiful jobs is to walk down the street to our little corner bakery and get some nice fresh warm nan. Its so good. Our bakery is amazing, It’s the best nan I have had here.

8 am - After breakfast we have a morning meeting, which they awesomely like to call “The Opening Ceremony.” This is when we discuss our plans for the day.

9 am - Then usually we have Dari class from 9 to 12. This is five days a week. Khub as.

12 noon - We go out to eat for lunch. We often try new restaurants although we have a couple favorites. My favorite is this one where we get “salads” (French fries with some veggies) and palaw (delicious rice with these grape things and lamb but the grape things are good not gross like it might sound) tika kebab (because it’s the best kind) and sometimes we get this egg stuff and of course nan and fanta or Miranda or 7up. All for about $1.50 each.

1 or 2 or 3 pm – The schedule in the afternoon is more flexible. We either run errands, meet people, work on our peace school curriculum or all three. Sometimes we don’t do anything and take naps. Sometimes, like recently when we are moving into a new office, we go and buy a sink or a stove or something. Sometimes we play soccer.

6 or 7 pm – Then if you are on dinner duty you prepare dinner around 6 and then we eat around 7ish.

8 or so pm - We have a meeting after dinner. We talk about what we did and whatever we want to say.

9-9:30 pm - we may have a little bible study. Sometimes this is earlier, sometimes we don’t have it.

Then we do whatever (read, talk, watch a movie, lie down very still) or go to bed. It sounds kind of packed and sometimes its is, but this is Afghanistan so everything is slow paced and so are we. So everything is pretty flexible and there is always time for some naps and some downtime and what not.



And that’s when he handed me a picture of some afghan children and some japanense business men, standing, smiling, awkwardly in front of a gold lexus.

“These my relatives. They visit japan for 15 days. That’s a 2003 lexus.”

Today we went and visited some friends of our team leader, Chul. Ismael and his family. He lives with 5 of his 8 brothers and 3 of his 6 sisters. Many of those are married so there are about 900 hundred totally amazing kids running around the house. Khamel, Shaeed, and Bilal were the coolest, and also this other kid that I don’t remember the name, of who was the awesomist gentleist shyist boy in the whole universe. Whenever I try and remember his name all that comes to mind is “Roshan” but I doubt that’s it because that is the name of the cell phone company here.

Also, and this is cool in afghan culture, not weird, he, one of his older brothers, and a sister are all married to the same family of 2 sisters and a brother. Also they were all cousins to start with. Pretty nice moves. They fed us an insane meal, which was the best food we have had here yet: rice, dumplings, all this stuff I don’t know the names of. And we drank some zim zam. zim zam zim zam. zim zam.

"That’s an interesting item."

Furthmore we found an office to move into. Its up on the mountain side (not television mountain unfortunately) but it has an incredible view. Its real big and cool and its also the cheapest we could find at 250 bucks a month. Not bad for the capital, cause all these rich NGOs are driving up the price of living. Which sucks for afghans.

Also, we started learning Dari today. Some of the pronounciations are hard for Koreans and the teacher likes my pronouciations, so I am a sweet dari teacher's pet.


and then we met some really nice divers

There is a cola drink here called zim zam. And did you know that the Korean version of teletubbies they have different names and a different song? Bo instead of po, no tinky winky either.

So, we have been talking it up about geranshakh, the village I will be moving to in about a month. Apparently we are going to buy a Chinese bicycle, because to get supplies and some food, we will need to bike 1 hour to another village every couple days. Haha! 1 hour of biking. And if you know the sweet roads here in Afghanistan, they are the worst non real roads ever, even in Kabul the capital, and I am told they are far worse in the village.

Also, apparently we will bathe in a river near the village and in the winter not bathe, or maybe only once every two weeks when we come to Kabul.

More importantly for those of you who know how much I love my stuff to be stolen, apparently most of my stuff will be stolen as in the past large quantities of stuff have been stolen during the peace camps. One time they stole everything in one room including the floor mats and sleeping bags and pillows. So I am excited about these theft prospects. I want all my belongings to be stolen and then have nothing for the rest of the time and then die! Hahaha!

Also there will be donkeys and sheep and goats and camels there. And a commander! Aaron and Bryce and Karson, the commander is in geranshakh! And apparently the kids there have knives and ak47s. and grenades. And bombs. And sometimes they fish with them. The just chuck the grenades in the river and then blast out the fish. sounds good to me.