Faintings by factory workers are a regular occurrence here. They do all kinds of tests, improve ventilation, advise the workers to eat better, get more sleep, whatever, but I don’t think that’s going to change a thing. For whatever reason, it’s a cultural phenomenon with its own expectations. One young woman faints for some reason–or maybe just suggests that she feels funny or something–and that is the trigger, giving permission for everyone else to “faint” too. There’s probably no problem. It’s just what you’re supposed to do. I suspect the best response is to have a section of clean factory floor and just lay them side by side until they decide they’ve been on the floor long enough and them let them go back to work. Taking them to clinics, etc., probably doesn’t help and just perpetuates the problem.
This morning I was riding a motorcycle taxi (a motordupe) across town to our 10:00 AM mass, just like I do every Sunday, and I was thinking it was strange that this microfinance place was open on Sunday.
Then it dawned on me: “This isn’t Sunday! It’s Christmas!” and I considered how it’s just like a Sunday with all of us off from work and going to mass and that I would have the afternoon after mass to catch up on some paperwork.
Then it further dawned on me: “Wait! This isn’t Sunday! And it is Christmas, but it’s a work day in Cambodia” where 94% of the population is Buddhist with zero interest in Christmas and the birth of Christ. As I saw this woman dusting off the wares in her little shop, I realized that this afternoon after mass I would be heading back to work at the Deaf Development Programme. “It’s Tuesday!”, just an ordinary Tuesday and an ordinary workday for all of Cambodia except for the few of us Catholics who had a service on Christmas morning.
The understanding of Christmas isn’t very deep in Cambodian society and most outward signs of the season are commercially driven and geared toward children.
The Water Festival is over for another year and now the cleanup is in full swing. Click here to see more photos from along the riverfront.
For reasons like lack of electricity for refrigeration, some parts of the Phnom Penh economy work every day. And then there are those really poor people who work so they can eat that day. Click here to see more pictures from the streets during the Water Festival.
Click here for more scenes of preparation for the festival along the riverfront.
The Water Festival is on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week but already the preparations are much in evidence. Click here to see some of the work that is preparing Phnom Penh for the festival.
Organizations collect money in Cambodia just like everywhere else in the world, but here they don’t use robocalls and direct mail. It’s a more people-to-people approach here where figures like these process through the streets accompanied by a tuk-tuk with a loudspeaker announcing the presence of the figure–and the accompanying woman who collects the money for a Buddhist organization in this case.
October 8-10 are the three public holidays of this year’s Pchum Ben festival, a traditional religious occasion when people honor their ancestors, particularly by making offerings of rice balls in the pagodas. Click here for some photos from the beginning of the holiday period.
People in Cambodia want to keep the sun off themselves–it’s hot and makes their skin dark–but foods are left out in the sun to dry throughout Cambodia, in the city as well as the countryside. Click here for some examples in Phnom Penh.