The newest feeling when you arrive in a new country, and not really to visit or to travel but you are invited. You are a fellow finding a story for a prestigious organisation. So active and pumped up i was that I had been walking everywhere for last two days in Siem Reap. But did not really reach anywhere. Concurrently It took me two days to understand that there are parallel roads running together through the Siem Reap central market, they looked very much alike. As it took me two days to understand two important Khmer words like Susrai/hello and okun/thank you, even though i am better with languages.
I finally decided to rent a cycle with city tyres i.e. thicker than ususal as it was the best option I found then. And lord, it gave me wings. Today, I spent all day roaming around the outskirts of Siem Reap. Touching rural parts, unpaved roads, fields, seeing houses and realising the difference or the similarity with the huts there are in my country villages. Meeting with the water buffalo herd was strangely calming. I roamed around the lake, sat and observed them for hours and found their broad horns mesmerising, almost other-worldly as was the landscape, the longish pond. And then by the time it was evening sometime i reached an urban rural area, where I practised Khmer with some drunken foreigners who were interested in photography themselves.
There are still days left when i will be meeting my mentors for the workshop, but all this roaming is only to embrace as much information on varied subjects so as to present to the teachers what I will be working on as a project, dedicated to Cambodian people, at least that is how i thought i would like to work.
I am feeling so happy and so free in this country as my own that i want to work on something that makes and showcases Cambodia in a light true to her nature and history. Well i still have no idea and until i earn any idea i will only make sure to peddle as much in different directions. We have limited time and thus every day is valuable.
During the first two days, I found out about a school for the underprivileged in a village on the outskirts of Siem Reap. I met Frank, while he was on his walk to the school where he teaches English. I didn’t understand why he would joke about himself not abusing boys like everyone else in school. He is here in Cambodia for forty years now. He welcomed me and provided with his number and somebody else’s who’s school it was.
Later I met prom at his place after I had finished playing table tennis, where I defeated the best guy in the first match comprehensively, which woke every drunken player up who defeated me in every game with a smirky vengeance as if every match was a pride matter to them. In days coming, it were these people with whom i spent my late nights playing Table Tennis and learning about the underground culture of Cambodia.
Also, with prom I was understating the culture and history of this country which had been one of the least talked about subject for the locals themselves, may be because they don’t want tot remember what happened! And it truly was the most sensitive subject, to what had happened in their living Cambodian history. And now about the government and the corruption. About youngsters interested in learning Mandarin day in and day out rather than learning English. But in the middle of it all he started crying. Tears came out flowing from his eyes. He just stood, wrote me a number, and said “Brother you ask many questions”, she will answer everything. And there is another number i am writing. Tell her i sent you. I know you haven’t been eating well. She will feed you good Indian food. She lived in Buddha place for many years in India. You are good. So you need good food. Now go, let me drink!
Back at hotel other Photographer friends went for an outing at an Art school, some wandered along the Siem Reap River.
It hasn’t been great week in terms of food though. I had been going to the vegetable market and buying fruits and some vegetables. I hope Prom’s help will give my stomach and mind some Veggie Cambodian tastes.
To see what came out of this beautiful time in Cambodia, My Project – a dedication to Cambodia and her beautiful People : SINGSONG
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