What? Me, hot?

The last few days have seen the temperature at 100ºF. It is really hot in the deaf offices where we don’t have air conditioning. Heat is a relative entity for people here, though. Notice these two young women dressed in moderately heavy jackets, long pants, even gloves–and never even thinking that it’s hot!

A Cat in the House

Last Monday morning I left my house at 5:50 AM to go mass with the Salesian Sisters across town. When I came back at 7:50 AM and went to take my vitamin pill, I found dirty spots on the toilet bowl. Some of them looked like paw prints. I found that exceeding strange. I live alone. The house was locked up. I don’t have a cat or any other pet–although the geckos are free to come and go.

I figured it had to be an animal and because there were paw prints inside the toilet bowl, I surmised that it must have climbed up on the toilet and down inside it to get a drink. But what kind of animal and how did something that big get in the house?
I thought about this all day…and then coming home in the evening, it occurred to me that there IS an opening into my living space, at the top of a blocked stairway leading from my second floor room to a third floor where some indigenous students from the provinces live. The house is four floors tall, built for a single family, with internal stairways leading from floor to floor. The landlord, though, has blocked off the stairway leading from my second floor to the third floor. That is the covering with metal grill at the top of the stairs. I use the blocked stair steps for storing old suitcases that I may need when I haul stuff back to the United States.

But the covering over the stairwell is poorly done and there is a six-inch space between the top of the highest step and the cover. It’s plenty big for a cat-size animal to get through. I didn’t think the students had a cat, though, but then the next morning I found a large cat at the foot of these stairs and when I yelled at it, it jumped on the suitcases and scurried back upstairs.

The weather was about 100ºF that Monday and I’m guessing that while the students were out, the cat went looking for a drink of water and found my toilet.

Aesthetics–not yet

Cambodia likes to promote itself as an emerging mid-level income country rather than a least developed country, but the indications of development here are to a large degree a facade or veneer. Not much has changed for most of the country although the cities seem to bustle. In this environment, survival still takes precedence over artistic and cultural skills and values. If it works is much more important than how it looks.

An example of this is the wi-fi installation in the main corridor of our new building. The router, power supply, splitters, and the cables are all out in public view rather than hidden away or covered.

Still around…

The Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year) was February 10th but many homes and businesses still have their decorations on display.

These chrysanthemums are still holding up pretty well.

This store went for a more formal display and maybe they’re keeping the decorations up to feel they’re getting their money’s worth out of them.
Many smaller shops still have some decorations but for many of them I suspect it is due to inertia; no one has told the staff to take them down.

Untidy is OK

Aesthetics is not a prominent concern in Cambodia. Much of daily life is still focused on survival and so details like cleanliness, order, discipline get ignored. An example is this installation of our wi-fi router at the Deaf Development Programme. This was a new building and the installation could have been placed anywhere and taken any shape. The final result on the main corridor of our building is what is easiest and most accessible rather than might look best.

It’s mango season

Mangoes grow everywhere in Cambodia and everyone with land has at least one mango tree in the yard. And if you have a mango tree, you need a mango stick–a long pole with something on the end to pick mangoes off the tree. Here the DDP house mother uses a 12-foot pole to pick mangoes that are not yet ripe–but are a delicacy for Cambodians.

Here is the business end of a mango stick. This pole just has a cut off plastic water bottle on the end of the pole. It works, though. Sreymom got three mangoes while I was watching.

What is it?

Many oddities and quirks show up in Cambodian culture and daily life and one never knows whether it is a US-based or European-based fad or whether it some novelty originated in Cambodia. I saw this face? design? under a car door handle recently. What is it an image of? Does it mean something? Does somebody think it’s cute? Who knows?