Tag Archives: Victory Hill

Indian Curry Pot Restaurant located in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Curry-Infused Dreams of Freedom (or) A Backyard for my Dog to Piss
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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.

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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.

Mid-omelet,
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,
the restrictions,
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.
The backyard
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
in suburbia:
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.

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Indian Curry Pot Restaurant & Guest House
Victory Hill
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The Khmer Gourmet located in Sihanoukville, CambodiaThe

More American than Apple Pie

The Khmer Gourmet
Weather Station Hill
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The omelets at The Khmer Gourmet are fluffy and spiced with black pepper. The coffee has nothing to do with Nestle; the dark brew comes from beans grown by local farmers.

Khmer Gourmet omelet

I watch the American owner who’s in his late 20’s go about his morning. He flips pancakes, smiles at his Khmer sweetheart, says goodbye to his French customers, and glows when talking about honeymoon plans.

I experience a sense of optimism. I realize he is living the usually unattainable American dream, the elusive dream that I read about in grade school history books, that pro athletes talked about in high school, and that I prepared for during my uneducated first year of college. This is the American dream that has nothing to do with suburbia, health insurance, and a 401K plan. The last time I experienced this sort of adulation for America was when I heard Arturo’s story. My old boss crossed the border twice. Once along the coast and another time through the desert. He met the beautiful daughter of a Thai woman and Vietnam vet. After she graduated from college, they married and created a family. They then put their money together and opened a restaurant. Luckily, cupid instead of an Arizona militiaman shot Arturo.

These thoughts of the American dream die along with Saddam’s last breath. There he is on the front page of the paper. The fastest way to ruin a decent omelet is to read about U.S. foreign policy. I wish my country wasn’t the largest arms exporter with a large population of citizens who pledge allegiance to admitted liars. I wish it had a government that can be held accountable for crimes against humanity.

With the Cambodians and Europeans that I meet at The Khmer Gourmet, I would rather discuss huckleberries, the Sawtooth Mountains, and Senator Frank Church. I would rather tell them about Arturo from Moscow, Idaho than try to explain my government’s actions in the headlines of the Bangkok Post.

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I’d like to write a poem
while I’m on holiday in Cambodia.
There’s a rule to repetition.
I learned it a while ago.

While I’m on holiday in Cambodia,
with monkeys, goats and elephants.
I learned it a while ago,
and Brandon—he says he knows it.

With monkeys, goats, elephants,
prostitution, peace, and tourism.
Brandon—he says he knows it.
He’s eatin’ omelets and talkin’ politics,

prostitution, peace, and tourism—in Cambodia.
New year’s bombs in Bangkok.
eatin’ omelets and talkin’ politics—
democracy, by the way, is failing in Iraq

New year’s bombs in Bangkok,
read it in the Bangkok Post, saw it on CNN.
democracy is failing in Iraq and the USA,
and the talk is all about—Saddam Hussein.

read it in the Bangkok Post, saw it on CNN.
Bush is holding out for victory, but—How does he define it?
the talk is all about Saddam Hussein,
with the Khmer Rouge long forgotten

I define victory as peace
while sipping Anchor beer and sitting on the beach.
The Khmer Rouge, long forgotten by many, but
Cambodia remembers—leaders yet to be tried for their crimes.

While sipping Anchor beer and sitting on the beach,
I wonder if my children will be tourists in Iraq.
We ride a moto through the countryside,
Celebrate the new year with sparklers and fireworks.

I wonder if my children will be tourists in Iraq.
We ride a moto through the countryside
the kids all wave and yell—Hello!
there’s a rule to repetition that I broke a while ago.

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Besides fluffy omelets, Khmer Gourmet serves the best desserts on the Hill.

Something all Americans should know about: “America…From Freedom to Fascism,” a documentary by Aaron Russo. Determined to find the law that requires Americans to pay income tax, Aaron Russo sets out on a journey. Neither left- nor right-wing, this startling examination exposes the systematic erosion of civil liberties in America. Through interviews with US Congressmen, a former IRS Commissioner, former IRS and FBI agents, tax attorneys and authors, Russo connects the dots between money creation, federal income tax, voter fraud, the national identity card (becoming law in May 2008) and the implementation of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track citizens. A striking case about the evolving police state in America.