user since
Sat Mar 31 2001 at 15:13:30 (16.3 years ago )
last seen
Sat Jul 28 2012 at 10:10:31 (5 years ago )
number of write-ups
76 - View strawberry's writeups (feed)
level / experience
4 (Wordsmith) / 2566
mission drive within everything
amass copious amounts of cheddar cheese
motto
"...and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make..." – the beatles
most recent writeup
kiss your sister time
Send private message to strawberry

Hey hey hey... station23 just (mid-October 2002) started what should be an eleven-month trip around the world (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia, Chile and Brazil) ... drop him a encouraging message if you feel like it! (it can sometimes get lonely out there on the road) :)

***

If you're reading this, drop me a /msg with your mailing address and I'll try to drop you a snazzy postcard from Thailand. Oooh ah!

Note: snazziness is subjective

Join the postcard-having ranks of those like:

  • freshmint – "oh my, I was just looking at one of your w/us and jumped back to your homenode, only to remember that you sent me a postcard and I never replied. I feel so super-guilty. I owe you one from Australia. ;P"
  • pedrolio
  • birdonmyshoulder*
  • Glowing Fish – (actually, truth be told, Glowing Fish got a poster of Elvis with the King and Queen of Thailand)
  • Templeton – per request, got a Thai fridge magnet
  • spacklequeen
  • Chiisuta – "I got your postcard and it's now hanging up on my fridge, looking all cool. Thank you bunches!!!! :-)"
  • Zari
  • a scar faery – "it came! all a-covered in postmarks and stamps longer than any of my fingers..."
  • purple_curtain – "*dances a little dance* i am grinnificated. thank you muchly..."
  • Lometa – "*smiles* I got the post card ! Yay! What a thrill Thank you for a real day brightener"
  • sloebertje – "Thanks for the card! It did catch me smiling (but an E2 card will do that), but my fridge is not really well-stocked with cheese. Sorry."
  • Anml4ixoye – "AAAHHHH!! I GOT IT!!! CHEESE IS SOOO COOL AND YOU MADE MY DAY!!! (expect yours now that I have your addy) YOU ARE SO AWESOME!!!!!" [aw, shucks!]
  • avalyn – "I received your postcard on Saturday. Thanks! :)"
  • darl – "you ruuuuuuuuule, more later, wa!"
  • RACECAR – postcard sent on November 21st, 2002
  • vorg – "the card! the joy! the humanity! thank you. thank you."
  • ocelotbob – card sent on July 31st
  • liontamer – card sent on August 26th
  • humbabba – "thank you much for the card, yes it finds me enjoying myself in savannah, my little chunk of paradise in an impoverished way." as well as "atlanta, for me, is like on[e&393; of the circles of dante's hell...one of the lower ones, like six. the waffle house rules in many ways, glad you got to experience it...there's a waffle house every 20 miles on the lonely drive from cincinnati to daytona beach along eye 75; when next we meet, ask me how i know that."
  • Lost and Found – card sent on November 7th
  • oenone – postcard sent (sometime in November :) )
  • Andrew Aguecheek – sent a postcard showing Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca in Thailand
  • oenone – a little mosaic-y postcard sent
  • Cloony – a postcard of Patan in Nepal
  • Wiccanpiper – a postcard from Thailand showing a baby elephant wading in the Andaman sea, yet sent from Kathmandu—who knew!
  • theboobookitty – a postcard with a photo showing Inky in Bangkok
Any special requests? For instance purple_curtain asked for something spork-related (so I drew a little spork doodle on the card), Anml4ixoye (who generously offered to send me a postcard from "the armpit of the US") asked for a cheese-related doodle, and darl requested a drawing of the dreaded, yet non-existant, "yargmeister".

Want to see what a 1000 Lao kip note looks like in person? Just ask and I'll send one your way!

***

"The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats
nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts:
to return love for hate,
to include the excluded,
and to say, 'I was wrong.'"

— Sydney J. Harris (journalist)

***

Note to self: Books to buy

  • What a Long Strange Strip it's Been, Keith Knight - $16 plus s/h - http://www.kchronicles.com/order.shtml
  • Tintin et l'Alph-Art , Hergé - $26.95 plus s/h - http://www.marsimport.com/display_comic.php?ID=2520
  • The Adventures of Blake and Mortimer: Atlantis Mystery, Edgar P. Jacobs - $8.05 plus s/h - http://www.marsimport.com/display_comic.php?ID=3997
and Movies to see:

***

"How to Explain the Rules of Cricket"
http://www.coudal.com/writing.php

***

Two fish in a tank.
One of 'em says
"How do you drive this thing?"

***

"Para Su Familia Frosted Corn Flakes: They're Grrrrrande!"
—74westy, plastic.com

***

Gratuitous elephant joke:
Q. How do you get an elephant to fit into a Safeway bag?
A. Take the S from 'Safe' and the F from 'way'...
(hint: you may need to say this joke to someone out loud—they'll provide the answer)

[Note: reading this joke prompted wertperch to /msg me the following:
"*groans* at the elephant joke, and hurls cushions at you" at 2002.08.24@09:36]

***

Nutkin, the High Squirrel Priest made me laugh — I love weird little mini-stories like this.

***

...the bags of the soup crackers were wet and I feared he had been keeping them in his mouth...

***

What would you do with $86,400 a day?

***

"Thanks once again go out to strawberry, who, I am beginning to suspect, is relatively diminutive, has poorly painted, bright red cheeks, and habitually grips a tiny fishing rod.

mofaha

***

Many moons ago I worked in customer service at a software company. One day I was offered the chance to take a trip down to California to give a presentation to the Orange Country Mac User Group (OCMUG). Basically, it would be me and this guy Bob who was in tech support. We both said said sure.

The week and a half leading up to our journey saw me emailing a marketing weasel (let's call) Edie every day about the script she would write that we would have to read through; the road map for our software demo. She kept assuring me

"You'll have it soon — you're number one on my list!"
Well, as our trip grew closer my emails grew a bit more anxious...
"Edie, we'd really like to have that script soon so we can get in some practice before we demo...".

A Saturday afternoon a few days later we fly down to Orange County and grab a cab to some business-traveller hotel ("Give us one of your business cards and we'll make you a custom luggage tag!"). We, of course, have no script. That damn Edie.

Bob is a nice guy. Quiet, smart, serious, possessing both a dry wit and a certain unflappable nature. He's like Sam the Eagle on the Muppet Show but without the hand up his ass. We're both a little tired
(whew, that PDX-Orange County flight will take the wind out of your sails, what is it, a fourteen minute flight? The inflight meal being a woman quickly coming around with a communal tube of cake frosting and saying "open!")
so we retire to our respective rooms and agree to meet up for dinner in a couple of hours.

Bob had graciously volunteered to write up a basic script as he is going to be doing most of the demo. At dinner we look over it; a couple pages of handwritten text.

"I'll work on it a bit more tonight" he tells me.

We ate at some "country cookin'" kind of place where the waitresses wear brown plaid dresses and the name most likely had the words "Country" and/or "Pie" in the name. It could've, in fact, been "Country Pie", although perhaps I'm confusing it with the Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland. To my knowledge there were no singing bears although I didn't get a look in the kitchen. After our dessert — pie! country-style! — we took a cab back to the business-hotel (what we shoulda done, taken two cabs and raced — that would've been cool adding both zip and pizazz to this story; but we didn't) and while I watched hotel cable (wow, local Orange County news is just like Portland news, but in an incredibly boring, this-has-no-meaning-to-me way), Bob continued to work on the script.

The next morning we met up in the lobby. Turns out Bob worked until like 2am finishing the damn thing (the script, not the lobby which looked as if it had been completed before we arrived). We grab a cab and we're off to some local community college or other where the OCMUG meets up.

After a couple of minutes of purposeful wandering we find the room and it's like a mini auditorium; probably a band room or something. I take a look around the room at the audience and place the age of the average OCMUG'er at seventy. These people are dressed up like only senior citizens do. Suit jackets, sweaters — church clothes — maybe a spat or two.

On the sidelines, we're making last minute checks on our PowerBook, waiting for some other people who are demoing the latest shareware version of a mailing-label printing program. They are met with applause at the end. This is encouraging.

Our time comes and we go up to the little podium thing and Bob starts. He's a bit tired, not real happy about having had to do Edies job, probably regretting ever saying "sure!" to his spending a weekend to come down here. He's reading the text and trying to look up a bit, but then it starts...

"...mumble mumble..."

then louder mumbles... the Cave-of-Elders is shifting in their seats, grumbling.

I'm growing uneasy. I can see the demo isn't going so well, but I want to back up Bob.

"Don't read to us!,"
a white haired man suddenly shouts out, "Show us!".

His voice is met with many voicing agreement. Bob stops and looks up. Says nothing. I can tell his jaw is locked.

Suddenly I see my face on tonights news, still wearing that damn company shirt, answering police questions for half the night...

"...yes, yes, my friend... he toiled on this script for hours... went without sleep... that damn Edie screwed us... I don't think he liked the pie last night... yes, he hacked that gray haired gentleman to death with a specially-priced Wacom graphics tablet..."

Luckily we had a couple of dozen colorful company pens to hand out once the demo was over or the whole thing could've been a bloodbath. People love gaudily colored pens.

Oh, look, something I would never in my right mind purchase for myself, but it's free and shiny!

Epilogue: I did get some satisfaction hearing a story months later about Edie. She had a broken toe and was walking to the bathroom late at night and didn't turn on the lights because she didn't want to wake up her husband. In the dark, she misjudged the distance and ended up full-on kicking the toilet with her bad toe. Her husband woke up to her blood-curdling (yes, actual blood was documented to curdle) shouts of "God-fucking-dammit! Motherfucker!" echoing off the tiled walls of the bathroom. As for Bob and I, we both got OCMUG mugs with an apple printed on the side in orange — our purple hearts of demoing.

***

January 11th, 2003
Still in Kathmandu. It's cold here at nights but there's a big comforter on my bed so I sleep all snug like mister proverbial bug.

Friday I had dinner at Anita and Aroti's (pronounced "R,O,T") house with their parents. They all live in one concrete room aabout the size of a teenagers bedroom. They cooked the standard dal bhat over their kerosene stove and bought and cooked some fish especially for my visit. When I got there they were still preparing and Anita (who is 10 or 12) was rolling the pieces of fish in a fish-curry sauce then walking to another side of her room with her yellow curry-covered hands held up like a surgeon. They piled up my plate with plenty of stuff and I ate as much as I could.

The next day (Saturday) I took Anita & Aroti (sisters), Jyoti, Kiran & Prakash (sisters and brother) and their parents, along with two others to a football (soccer) match. A few weeks ago there was a pretty bad fire that swept through a neighborhood in another part of Nepal. Scores of people lost their houses and belongings and were left with pretty much nothing but memories. The football match we went to was set up with all of the funds going to charity for those people. The football match was called "Friendly Football" and the teams were comprised of Nepali movie actors and Nepali singers. Thousands of people showed up and it was great to see people able to have a good time and laugh together.

Before the match, a young man rode around the field (to cheers) on a unicycle while holding up the two-triangled Nepali flag. The game started and it was cool because the players were all out to have a good time and were not adverse to goofing around — much to the enjoyment of the crowd. Twice when people tried to kick the ball their shoes came off (one time going into the goal). Once a man chased down the ball only to try and kick it and totally miss. Other times members of the same team ran into each other, or their hats fell off while they were running. For a moment, two jokers at the other end of the field brought on a second ball — they definately weren't afraid to ham it up. Although there were two teams (actors versus singers) it was clear that they were all one team and the crowd was right there with 'em.

At halftime, the kids and I wandered closer to the field and looked down at the people drinking water, stretching, et cetera. We saw one woman from the actors team who was standing there and I asked Aroti who it was. She told me her name (although I've forgotten — let's call her "Srijana") and Aroti seemed like she wanted to wave — giving those little voice squeaks and self-conscious wave-starts. I encouraged her and she said "Srijana didi!" (which means "older sister (or elder female) Srijana") a couple of times until the woman heard her. The actress looked up at the kids and me behind them, all of us waving and smiling and she smiled and waved back and blew Aroti a kiss. Shoulda seen Aroti's little face! Very cool, I thought.

A few minutes later a man who works for a small (teeny) weekly Nepali magazine asked me if he could interview me for his next issue. I was busy walking around with the kids so I told him tomorrow would be better. We arranged for him to come to my guest house today but something must've come up because he didn't show. Oh well, there goes my Nepali Pulitzer.

After the game I bought some toasted "baht-moss" (soybeans) for the kids ('cause they were a bit peckish) and then we caught a "tempo" (a 3-wheeled, propane powered mini taxi-thing for multiple people) back to their houses.

***

December 22nd, 2002

"...you wear it until it falls off..." Julie had told me some eleven months ago.

Last night while reading Walter Mosley's Black Betty there was a scene at a 1961 Los Angeles hot dog stand. A chili dog...

I'm lying in bed, head and arms poking out from under a thick Nepali comforter, paperback on my chest, in my four-dollar-a-night room trying to stay warm. — Oh man, a chili dog. I even said the words out loud. Man, that sounded tasty.

I hadn't eaten anything all day except for a litre of orange juice and a Nestle Crunch bar (yeah, I'm on a health kick). I figured after the many early morning trips to the bathroom this morning my stomach wasn't ready for actual meals just yet.

Note to self, I think, upon return to Thailand, before meeting up with Martin for the platter of fish and chips I owe him, get thee to a chili-doggery. Man, but I had a hankering.

This morning after sleeping as much as I could (take that stomach-bug/cold!) I got up and made my way to the Indigo Gallery to check out some panoramic photos I'd seen an advert for. Well, turns out the advert was two years old, so I was two years late. Oh well.

Started walking towards Chez Catherine where I figured I'd fix myself up with a meal. Nothing big, but get something in there to keep the rascals busy. I had overheard that Carolines had the best french fries in Kathmandu. This was from the same table that had been talking about colleges

"Well, Simon's Rock is like Harvard but for the kids with problems... you know serious drug problems, suicide, all that..." said the woman who let the table know she attended Sarah Lawrence
"Vassar? They're good, but now they have the reputation of being the big college for homosexual men... ...of course all the women go to Holyoake she continued.
There are a great many things I don't know much about. Religion, how most of the places I've worked ever made any money, just how they get an hours worth of little pits into a CD... and all these sorted little tales about colleges. I never had a list of safety schools — although in the fourth grade I was on our schools Safety Patrol. :)

Anywho, I had stumbled upon Carolines a few weeks back while on a wild goose chase. Damn geese! The place is like a little French cafe (having never been to France or Quebec, I'm assuming here) and their food is awesome and still pretty cheap. It's good to go in the mid-afternoon so you can read the paper in peace. Come for dinner and it's packed and you have to hear tables full of people complain to eath other about the manager of their NGO and compare how much they paid for new curtains.

Today I ordered the soup de jour — whenever I ask what the soup of the day is I always expect the person to reply

"It's the 'soup of the day', sir.
as if I'm some idiot and they're cracking wise. With the soup I ordered a plate of french fries (baby wants salt!), two ojs, an iced tea, and a coke with ice (the only way to make coke drinkable) — this whole sick thing had made me thirsty, too.

When it all arrived I had to laugh. I must look like Mr. America to everyone else with my fries and coke.

After lunch I walked slowly back to my guest house. I had to actually stop for a moment once to catch my breath and let pause a bit of dizzyness.

"What am I? 80? I thought to myself, followed by Damn cold.
I was walking along and in addition to the normal people coming towards me was a man and his daughter walking holding hands. Always a nice thing to see. As I moved over to accomodate them the girl broke hand-hold with her father and stopped in front of me holding out her hand.
"Hello! she said to me proudly.
Surprised, I gave her a hearty
"Hello! back as we shook hands.
Her little hand was warm like fresh bread and reminded me of how cold my hands were. We both went through the how are you? I'm fine. How are you? I am fine also..." routine and then she hurried to catch up with her father. I laughed and smiled watching her go. Then turned and continued on home.

***

November 6th, 2002
Today was the biggest day of Tihar. I went over to Sona's family's house and after a bit we all made our way up to the roof. A couple of mats were laid out on the concrete and trays of colored powder were set at the ready. First Sona's father sat down as his son said (or perhaps chanted is closer) some words in Nepali and his wife walked around him drizzling water over some flowers and onto the ground — encircling him in a ring of water. Next he was sprinkled with red powder and marigold petals and given three flower necklaces (like Hawaiian leis: one made from marigolds, one from purple clover and one made from colored tinsel). His son then held a piece of banana leaf with a wide slit in it on his forehead as his wife applied a traffic-light like tika — from top to bottom red, green, red, dark pink, blue, green, orange, and red. When the banana leaf was removed he had a beautiful multicolored tika. He was then offered a large platter of fruits, nuts, deep friend breads [roti] and various sweets. Once he had taken a bite from a shelled orange colored hard-boiled egg he leaned forward and gave his wife a tika — a red dot on a larger orange one.

I and the rest of the males of the family then followed, mostly one at a time, getting our tikas from the women of the family. As I was getting my tikas I closed my eyes for a moment and heard (and felt) Kreepa, Sona's four or five-year-old niece, sneeze on my right arm — twice! :) After giving Sona's mother a tika I presented her with a new sari that Sona had helped me pick out (read as "[Sona] picked out and even haggled the sari guy down 30 rupees while I generally sat on a teeny ten inch stool and looked around the sari shop") — this seemed good as getting to close to a candle while giving her husband a tika she had burnt a softball-sized hole in the sari she was wearing today.

Later, after a meal (leading my stomach to say

"Meal? We just ate — remember that platter of vittles?")
we headed to a friend of the family's house where they were celebrating Tihar Newar style — seven women virtually covered the three men in flower necklaces and tikas when they weren't filling the room with platter after platter after platter of one of dozens of types of fried bread in different shapes and colors. About an hour and a half later (the Newar version is much much longer and has a lot more steps) it was finished and we, the spectators, were given big plates piled with food. My stomach is currently not speaking to me.

***

November 5th, 2002
Back in Kathmandu after a five hour bus ride. This morning was a bit frenzied trying to pass out the remaining photos as well as saying goodbyes and still making the 9:30am bus. People asked me when I would be coming back — I could see spending a couple of months here again, but not with the current Maoist situation.

Yesterday all of the dogs in Betrawati wore necklaces made from red or orange flowers and had red tikas on the tops of their furry heads. Today it was the cows turn, but I didn't see any gussied-up bovines. Many buses on the roads today as families, sons, and daughters return home to celebrate Tihar with their extended families. Tonight groups of boys — and two groups of girls I saw — roved around Thamel going from shop to shop singing hoping to receive a few rupees from the shop-keepers. Tomorrow is the biggest day of Tihar. In the morning I will go over to Sona's family's house to receive a tika. I forget if we eat any special foods or anything as well.

***

November 4th, 2002
Saw Sabatri and Sabatri, a mother and daughter, who gave me a tika (colored dot(s) on the forehead) two years ago. Then it was of to Trisuli Bazaar (9km to the south-south-west) to get all of the film developed. While waiting for the 9:30am bus I moseyed about and took some more photos. The bus was packed so I climbed the ladder on the back and rode the roof with a bunch of other people. Got off the bus and used my last photo on three kids who had waved me over.

The owner of the photo place was standing on a chair hanging up what they call jelly mini [Christmas lights]. These being for the upcoming Tihar festival — Nepal's Festival of Lights. When he plugged them in (once he was done hanging them all) the small shop filled with a tinny "almost-the-right-notes" version of "Xmas Classics". It was a touch less enjoyable than sitting near the guy on the train while he cycles one at a time through all of the ring tones on his mobile. My sanity opened the door over the wing, but was unable to get the escape slide to inflate. The man didn't seem to notice the noise and let me know that my twelve rolls of film would be ready in an hour. I was a bit skeptical. Most people might have been suspicious but I always opt for skeptical as I think you'll agree it just sounds cooler.
Three and a half hours the pictures were all done.

During the bus ride home (roof again) I saw something that one doesn't see much while riding the Red Line; one side of the rode a man was chasing monkeys ("damn monkeys!" thought I) from his dry harvested rice fields, while on the other side of the road a dozen or so toddler-sized monkeys seemed to think that the flooded rice fields meant "Family Night at the Y"

Back in Betrawati I did my best to organize the photos by location (so I didn't have to flip through all 300 or so photos whenever I was trying to give someone their photo) and then started handing them out — many excited kids. Only two-thirds done by nightfall. Tonight is Laxmi Pooja so most houses have many candles burning in doorways to attract Laxmi, goddess of prosperity (I believe). Also kids go 'round playing doubled-ended drums (called a model) and singing and get given food or a rupee.

***

November 3rd, 2002
I'm not sure how it got in exactly — whether by water or food — but something was making my stomach feel like it was the setting for the Armadillo Wrestling finals. After a long night, morning came (as it always seems wont to do) and with it a little relief. Spent the day out and about taking pick-up shots — pictures of those I hadn't gotten yet. As one might imagine, it's always much easier to get photos if you happen upon two or three kids. Many more, or different groups of kids and you start to get the whole pandemonium thing going — by which of course I mean that there are Kodiak bears involved.

While catching some shade at the Lamichane's I heard a

"bum-bum-bum-bum-bum..."
from next door. In a minute a small man seemingly made from tree branches squatted down in front of us with his cereal-bowel-sized drum before him and played. Gayatri went inside and brought out a cup of rice for him which she emptied into his bag.

In the early evening Indra, who drives a bus from Kathmandu, returned to Betrawati for an evening. He came to speak to his mother about his moving to Japan. A few days back he was driving into a village near Trisuli Bazaar. A Maoist got on and sat right next to him as he drove and said

"Why do you drive this bus?".
Indra told me that it wasn't meant as a question.

***

November 2nd, 2002
Too chilly this morning for a [outdoor, unheated] shower, but just right for a cup of buffalo milk tea. The breakfast idea seemed to have slipped away so I made my way down the "street" (wide dirt path) waving and "namaste"ing all of the kids and adults (except the elderly who I gave the more respectful "namaskar"). The person I was looking for was playing football down by the river so I went down to take a look. From what I understand, the kids are playing "World Cup" which seems to involve a good portion of the pre-teen male population of the area. I'm guessing that they play many back-to-back games but I'm not sure as I went off to Tupche to take some photos.

Much of the village were busy with what I suppose I should call the rice harvest. Groups of men standing in a circle in a field thrashing clumps of dried rice stalks ("stalks"?) against a few large (cereal box size) rocks sitting in the middle of a large tarp. Women collecting the rice-less grass and taking huge scratchy back-loads to make orderly piles — I believe these are then feed to the buffalo.

I recognized a couple of the kids from two years ago (I didn't really know many people in Tupche as only one of two of them went to Uttargaya school where I volunteered) and met the father of a baby whose photo I had taken last time. He still has the picture and liked it and I was glad to hear it.

Then it was back across the Trisuli river on the suspension footbridge to Betrawati to take many many more pictures — I ended up taking over one hundred and fifty today. Just before sundown — or "sun going behind the big hill to the west" as it is here in this valley — I grabbed a shower. Dinner was rice, potatoes, greens, some sort of potato dahl and a little dab of sour stuff that really complemented it all — tasty! Tired.

***

November 1st, 2002
Back in Betrawati for a couple of days [this text posted once back in Kathmandu as there is no phone line in Betrawati (was cut by the Maoists) or internet access]. The Maoist problem is much worse in this area now. The handful of police that used to be here are gone — not killed but chased away by the Maoists or pulled out by the government. The bus from Kathmandu passed through several army checkpoints where people would have to get off of the bus and walk a hundred meters or so and then get back on.

In Bidur a soldier slowly made his way down the aisle checking everyone out — his machine gun slung on his back pointing this way and that as he leaned down to check in a bag or what-have-you. The heavy guns collapsible stock was tied to the Swiss cheese barrel with pink plastic string. The man sitting next to me was in his fifties. He had a big woven plastic (the new burlap) bag of what I assumed was rice. I offered him one of my Thai Mentos and later he asked me for another one. At noon we stopped for about twenty minutes. I ate a lunch of dahl baht and potatoes [aloo] and greens as well as some piping hot milk tea [dood chia] — the man who liked the Mentos bought several thick white-carrot-looking things.

Upon arriving in Betrawati I was eager to walk about and clown around with the kids. Sona's mother (who I am staying with) insisted that I drink some (again, piping hot) tea first. I finished it as quickly as I could and walked towards Binod Lamichane's house [where I lived for two months about two years ago]. Many kids have now moved to Kathmandu which I suppose is good given the situation