The Foreign Service Journal, November 2011

he Buddha never met an ambas- sador’s wife, yet he comprehended that life is rooted in suffering. This is only one example of his perspi- cacity. Before narrating the unfortu- nate incident of the 150 Cats of Labor and the All-Night Full Moon Residence Rave, I feel obligated to inform my honored reader about the circum- stances of my humble narrative. My name is Nita, and I am a cook at the residence of the U.S. ambassa- dor. As such, I am situated far from the ambassador’s office, which means that the gossip and other news of importance are often intol- erably late. Still, I am an important link in the chain of humble labor- ers of this embassy, and equally dedicated to the attempt to control our well-meaning if headstrong American masters and their fami- lies and prevent them from losing face. I am mindful of the many con- tributions of those fortunate and brave enough to have preceded me into the homes of the American diplomats. During my long ap- prenticeship in the ambassador’s kitchen under my aunt, my ears were filled with chronicles, explo- ration and analysis of our Ameri- cans’ lamentable ignorance of certain truths as revealed by the Buddha. Especially memorable was the assessment of the Honorable Tontai, beloved to all for his twin achievements as a plumber and a Buddhist so- cial theologian. Tontai pointed out that the concept of Right Speech, perhaps the most important of the Bud- dha’s Noble Eightfold Paths, with its emphasis on ab- stention from telling lies, harsh and abusive language, idle gossip, and backbiting, is essentially at odds with the job of a modern diplomat as practiced in our world. May I suggest that we do not give them sufficient credit for the difficulty of their situation? This is particularly the case with our Mrs. Ambassador. I feel she has her heart in the right place. I found her master’s thesis in art his- tory (which I had an opportunity to examine in the cleaning process re- sulting from the decision to pack it for shipment in the same box as Mr. Ambassador’s beloved maple syrup) to show an active and in- quisitive mind. However, experts in pre-Raphaelite line drawing are sadly underappreciated here, and it is therefore somewhat natural that she should get herself mixed up in an inauspicious, if well-intentioned, scheme with untoward conse- quences. His Excellency, the ambassador, by contrast, is apparently lacking in cultural refinement: he puts ket- chup on his eggs and has an unfor- tunate aversion to our national cui- sine when it is prepared with the appropriate amount of chili pep- pers. Yet the gardeners, maids, se- curity staff and I grow fond of him, as his unprepossessing presence in- J OURNAL Editor S TEVE H ONLEY ’ S C lassic P icks FSJ J ULY -A UGUST 2003 F S F I C T I O N N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 1 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 53 T M RS . A MBASSADOR GETS MIXED UP IN A WELL - INTENTIONED SCHEME WITH BIZARRE CONSEQUENCES . B Y D AVID M C A ULEY N ITA AND THE F IRST N OBLE E IGHTFOLD P ATH Janet Cleland