Curry-Infused Dreams of Freedom (or) A Backyard for my Dog to Piss
Indian Curry Pot Restaurant & Guest House,
I wouldn’t want to stay at a place called the Curry Pot,
even for the price of $3 a night.
I imagine a hammock strung above a steaming pot,
with curry smells rising up in dreamlike wisps of spiciness,
curling through the air, drifting below my nostrils as I try to sleep,
infusing my dreams with temples, rats and brightly-colored saris.
Anyway, I’m not looking for cheap accommodation.
I’m looking for a good omelet.
Usually I order curry at Indian restaurants,
This time I try an omelet
with a baguette and fresh fruit on the side.
I sit at one of the few tables,
notice an adorable little girl with big brown eyes
milling about between the tables
but my attention is drawn to the sea turtles on TV.
not expecting a baby to be sleeping in a restaurant,
I am surprised to hear
a whimper from the corner.
A woman immediately appears from the kitchen
to breastfeed the baby
who had been nestled quietly in a bed behind the counter
the whole time.
As I’m swallowing the last bite of banana,
I meet the owner, a happy man
who enjoys chatting with his customers.
He pulls a chair up to my table,
talks about his native land of Pakistan,
strict Muslim codes
compared to here in Cambodia.
He takes customer service to an unfamiliar and appealing level
of intimacy and entertainment.
It’s as though he’s chatting with a friend in his living room.
Then I realize that’s exactly what’s happening.
I’m the friend who has entered his home to enjoy a meal.
Here in Cambodia,
he’s allowed a family,
a business on his own terms,
freedom to be a homeowner and entrepreneur.
Selling curry, omelets and cheap accommodation from his living room.
I’m from Boise, Idaho
where people place a different value on property.
Yes, a person can own a piece of land.
On that land
they build or buy a box
to store possessions.
simply a place for the dog to piss.
Beautify the front yard,
motivated by a Better Homes and Garden look.
A fancy exterior will increase property value.
Indian Curry Pots
do not exist
in Boise, Idaho.
The only type of acceptable business
a Garage Sale.
Make way for new possessions!
As I get up to leave, I realize
the 5-year-old girl is his daughter.
She comes over to sit in his lap,
wants to know if I can
recite the ABC’s.
America, Better Change.
Indian Curry Pot Restaurant & Guest House