Bangkok Eats

The markets here are bursting with vegetables and fruits–yet we have a hard time getting enough greens in our meals. 

The most common are broccoli spears that garnish the noodle bowls and, if you’re lucky, a cook will tuck some broccoli flowers between the cloves of garlic and onions. 

In the markets we’ve seen cucumbers and beans, garlic and onions, and leafy hunks of greens with no discernible identity. 

We’ve discovered that you need to ignore the menu that reads “fried vegetables” and just go ahead–that way you are guaranteed to get some color with your deep-fried fish or chicken and hunks of pork. 

Everything is fried. Sigh. 

One evening I had delicious duck pieces swimming in broth with flattened greens–like kale–a real highlight of our trip.

And one lunch Honey ordered a vegetable omelette and–although he uttered no complaint–it was clear the vegetables emerged from a frozen concoction of peas, carrots and corn right from a cellophane bag (a rarity–the food is usually super fresh). 

We often decide on Pad Thai which comes with noodles and a few vegetables and loads of meat: shrimp has been the most common item. 

I was sorely tempted to try the cockles at an outdoor vendor near our hotel in Bangkok (we got great Pad Thai here and a wonderful vegetable stir-fry with wee corn cobs) but my common sense–which is easily persuaded to depart from its core mission–won over: no experimenting with shell fish or salads (I guess shrimp doesn’t count). 

The dishes listed on the menu are usually catalogued by meats–fish or chicken or pork. 

We skip over the salad and the pages that are headlined “Spicy,” which take up a whole section on the menu.

At our hotel you can order food for lunch or evening (although we usually go out) and it comes from a local take-away–so it’s just like getting street food. 

Breakfast is a delight: lots of fruits including pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe and papaya, and I tried my first lychee–which tastes like a sweet grape once you relieve it of its rough skin. 

The staff puts out a different juice daily: apple, papaya, passion fruit, aloe vera, watermelon with tomato, and orange. 

They will make you roti with sugar, or you can get a crepe with eggs enfolded.

I found a plain crepe was delicious with fruit and yogurt. 

We feast on a variety of homemade breads, including sliced breads with one dyed green, another yellow, and another red. 

As for drinks my favorite is “soda water”–bubble water that’s easy to find. 

We know to avoid local water and ice, but, after the first day we realized you almost always get ice in drinks–the Bangkok residents seem to have ice in everything (except beer). 

Beer is plentiful but wine is a specialty available only at restaurants for tourists.

We seldom see hard alcohol although bars aren’t uncommon on the streets.

If the drinks are cold then we opt for straws rather than ice, and there’s plentiful cokes and orange soda. 

On our return from a very hot train ride from Ayutthaha I drank 2 soda waters with ice at our hotel and I didn’t mind having to get up twice in the night to pee. 

Photo from the Bangkok Flower Market

#Bangkokvacation

#nativescience

#cynthialcoleman

#nativewriter

[Please forgive spelling errors I didn’t catch]

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Customs as Stories


Stories as Customs

All cultures have in common ceremonies we find important, from baby christenings to college graduations.

As a teenager I shunned such ceremonies because my friends and I knew we were way “too cool” to participate in customs that seemed untethered to their purposes. 

But now?

I’ve come to embrace ceremonies and customs, such as the act of bowing when visiting Asian countries and the invitation for elders to eat first at Native American gatherings.

My Honey and I took part in a ceremony this past week where we promised to live an ethical life. 

For a few months we participated in seminars at our local zen center where we learned about the Buddhist precepts.

Our job was to study and discuss the first Five Precepts, which ask followers to avoid killing, stealing, abusing sex, lying, and misusing alcohol or drugs.

Each week we’d think, read, write about and discuss the precepts, peeling back the layers of meaning.

We asked philosophical questions, like, When is it OK to lie? and considered the precepts when meditating. 

If we wanted to “take” the precepts then we were invited to be part of a ceremony at our Zendo once our studies were complete.
For the ceremony each of us sewed a wagessa.

Like hooding at a graduate-degree celebration, we would have the wagessa placed around our necks during the ceremony.

Our wagessas are constructed of navy-blue cotton-duck fabric that loops around your neck–much like an unknotted Western cravat–and the two ends hang loose just above your belly. 

You connect the ends with blue cording after you make two knots that looks like three-leaf clovers. 

For a seamstress the project isn’t too daunting, but for someone who has never sewn–like my Honey–the learning curve is steep.

Although he accepted a little advice from me at the beginning–like how to sew a running stitch and then turn the fabric inside out–he was determined to sew alone.

The instruction is to contemplate the project while you sew, and Honey took the task seriously. 

But no one said you can’t ask for help, and my feelings were a bit ruffled that he didn’t need me. 

I would peer in from time to time and find him sewing like a surgeon, using a hemostat to hold the needle in place while he looped the thread in, out and around.

The finishing touch is tying the knots together with a few inches of leftover cording, much like the rope that loops around the hangman’s noose. 

I saved my leftover cord by sticking it in my pin cushion, but the cord disappeared–not an unusual occurrence when you live with Coyote. 

I was worried because I felt the wagessas were supposed to look the same, with no one standing out from the others.

Nothing in the house could substitute for a few inches of navy cord so I visited a local fabric store in search of cording.

And I found some.

Trouble was: the cording wasn’t for sale–it held together sheets of fabric that formed a book.

The cord created the binding and handle for the book.

I was surrounded by a sea of fabric books, each one tied with cording.

Cording I would have to snip discretely from the book and then smuggle out of the store if I were to purloin some.

What a dilemma: steal a few inches of cording so that my wagessa would comply with the customary apparel or blow past the precept that discourages stealing.

Better to have an imperfect wagessa than steal something to make it perfect.

I settled for a few inches of navy ribbon–the same color as the cord–for the price of eight cents, took it home, and sewed it onto my wagessa, hoping no one at the ceremony would notice that mine differed ever so slightly.

I’ve known American Indian women who purposefully make a tiny mistake in their sewing or beading projects.

Why? The reasons are as varied as the women.

The one I like best comes from an elder who told me that the mistake is made to show the creative work is from the hand of a human being.

Turns out the Buddhist sewing project not only serves as a fitting story about keeping the precepts: it also let me merge my zen practice with my Native teachings.

Now that’s a story.

6 March 2017

#nativescience

#cynthiacoleman

#nativewriter

#wagessa

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When Hate Multiplies Hate

mlk

With Hate, We Destroy Ourselves

I heard a talk today that lessened my misery that comes from looking at the headlines.

My days begin the same way:

Each morning brings a mix of interest and dread as I review the news and sip my tea.

I end up feeling awful.

Three types of news emerge:

Continue reading

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The Truth Will Set You Free

camp_arbeitmachtfrei

Alternate facts like “work makes you free” (arbeit macht frei) adorned concentration camps in Germany during World War II

When journalists euthanize the truth

For weeks pundits have stressed over political happenings from Washington D.C. that are out-of-reach for most of us muggles: how do we make sense of uncensored tweets from the powerful? The unvarnished shills from a staffer begging us to buy jewels tied to the White House? The brazen reframing of lies as facts?

Most of us are so far removed from White House shenanigans that we rely on news reports, late night talk shows and social media to glean our meanings of the political world.

Most of us knows political reality solely through mass media.

And that’s the problem: the truth has been euthanized.

How?

Continue reading

Posted in american indian, journalism, news bias | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Kennewick Man’s Remains Returned

Cynthia Coleman Emery's Blog

time-magazineWhy We Should Care?

Remains of a 9500-year old skeleton discovered on American Indian land 20 years ago have been making news because Congress recently approved legislation to return the bones to local tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

For 20 years I’ve studied how public discourse takes shape, thanks, in large part, to the work of graduate student Erin Dysart Hanes.

Although Erin graduated some time ago, the unearthing of the bones—called Kennewick Man by non-Indians and The Ancient One by local tribes—has been the hub in my research wheel.

The conflict arose in Indian Country when scientists wanted to study the skeleton, while indigenous communities argued that Federal law (NAGPRA) protected human remains from perturbation.

After a nine-year court battle, the judge ruled against the tribes and the skeleton was removed to the Burke Museum in Seattle, where the remains have been the subject of intensive study.

Tribal leaders…

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Kennewick Man’s Remains Returned

time-magazine

This past weekend we learned in the local news that remains of a 9500-year old skeleton discovered on American Indian land 20 years ago have been returned.

In honor of the decision by President Obama and Congress, I’ve reblogged my recent comments about the skeleton.

For 20 years I’ve studied how public discourse takes shape, thanks, in large part, to the work of graduate student Erin Dysart Hanes.

Although Erin graduated some time ago, the unearthing of the bones—called Kennewick Man by non-Indians and The Ancient One by local tribes—has been the hub in my research wheel.

The conflict arose in Indian Country when scientists wanted to study the skeleton, while indigenous communities argued that Federal law (NAGPRA) protected human remains from perturbation.

After a nine-year court battle, the judge ruled against the tribes and the skeleton was removed to the Burke Museum in Seattle, where the remains have been the subject of intensive study.

Tribal leaders long claimed that the bones—which were dug up from an area that Native people have called home for literally thousands of years—were subject to Indian laws and customs.

Two claims made headlines. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, Dakota pipeline, Kennewick Man, news bias, politics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Kennewick Man Bones Finally Return

the-saga-of-kennewick-man

Marty Two Bulls, from Indian Country Today

I was honored to join three tribal leaders who shared their insights and stories on today’s (2 February 2017) broadcast about the Ancient One–Kennewick Man.

The skeleton was discovered more than 20 years ago along the Columbia River, and local tribes were denied the right to have the bones returned, as guaranteed by Federal statute in NAGPRA legislation.

Instead, the bones were secured at the Burke Museum in Seattle so scientists could examine them.

Now, 20 years later, the Ancient One will be returned to Columbia River tribes.

Michael Marchand (Colville), JoDe Goudy (Yakama) and Nakia Williamson (Nez Perce) share knowledge seldom gleaned from mainstream press coverage in today’s broadcast.

You can hear the broadcast online at Native America Calling, where host Tara Gatewood asks some pressing questions about what the return of the ancestor means to Columbia River tribes and our other neighbors, and the role of science and culture in Indian Country today.

My small contribution was to note that the mainstream media–for more than 20 years–framed the story along a narrow scope.

“The central issue of concern,” said one noted journalist, “is the issue of who was here first?”

I strongly argue this is a false and misleading characterization.

Rather: one central issue is:

Who gets to decide what happens to ancient bones and artifacts on Native soil?

This issue is paramount because Kennewick Man represents only one battle unfolding in Indian Country about the role that tribes are afforded in participating in decisions that affect us, ranging from ancient remains to oil pipelines.

Special thank you to Andi Murphy, Associate Producer at Native America Calling

 

#cynthialcoleman

#Kennewickman

#nativescience

 

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