Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mmmm... Teprikash.

My sister doesn't read my blog. I believe her aversion to it stems from embarrassment (of me, of our childhood) and that generational divide that makes the word "blog" offensive to her 36-year-old ears. But it’s the fact that I know she won’t read it that allows me to talk about her birthday gift.

My family has always listened to NPR. The NPR classical station in Boulder was always playing on our kitchen radio, an ancient thing with fake wood grain panels and paint spatter on it. Every so often, All Things Considered would interrupt the music, and we would all absorb the news osmotically.

I bought my first car – a 1985 Toyota Tercel – to commute in. My drive to work was about an hour each way, and I listened to NPR going both directions. I started to recognize voices and develop opinions of some of the reporters.

First, there was Sylvia Poggioli, who, at the time, was reporting from Yugoslavia. Her accent made foreign places sound more approachable: Belgrade, Serbia; Kosovo; Montenegro. And for awhile I knew the important differences between these places.

Then there was Snigdha Prakash, whom I pictured to be a cute Irish girl named Snick Teprikash. (To this day, I think the name is great, however imaginary it may be. But I also thought that “teprikash” sounded like a good Irish meal consisting of equal parts cabbage, butter, potatoes, and lamb.) I swear I can remember her reporting on Sinn Féin and Northern Ireland, but her profile says that she concentrates on business news. Had I seen her actual name in print, I would have been all the wiser (the d-H-a in her first name seems to suggest that she might be from India), and I would have had fewer late night cravings for teprikash.

But, in the last few years, there has been someone I've loved to hear on NPR: Andrei Codrescu. His voice is thick and miserable like cigar smoke, and his Romanian accent makes me think of Siberian winters. But his message is always upbeat and playful. In a column for Gambit Weekly, he wrote, "I say, like Jesus, bring on the children. Their messes are understandable: peanut butter and snot, ketchup and blood, play dangerously close to traffic, make physical contact with your pals until the world spins, take a ball seriously enough to cry."

My sister loves listening to Andrei Codrescu, too, and we've talked a few times about him. I bought her his book of essays called New Orleans, Mon Amour, a perfect gift for my sister because she spent two weeks volunteering for disaster relief in New Orleans and consequently fell in love with that city. But no one can appreciate it in quite the same way as Andrei Codrescu.

Have a listen for yourself: The Long Route with New Orleans' Oldest Cabbie.

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