dimanche 15 juin 2014


These are the lessons brought home to me, during my four day stay in Siem Reap, second time this year 2014.
Give dignity to the other person
Be genuinely interested in what brought that person to this place, far away from their home.
Be humble. During a short encounter, do not waste the time boasting of what you have done with your life.
Let your demeanour speak for itself. “People are kind to you because of the way you are”, I was told.
Discuss what the others are interested in, and don’t dominate the conversation.
Brief description of some pleasant encounters in Siem Reap
1. Japan holds a special spot in my heart, for the fantastic education I received about Nutrition and respect for food during my nine visits to the country in 2005.
Here in Siem Reap, I come across the shop KRU KHMER, with Japanese style and thoughts
The lady in charge of the shop during the evening hours had the surname of my favourite Japanese writer and we had a nice chat about Cambodia, NGO work which produces the dainty things at display for sale and of course Japanese food!
2. Who would have thought I would be running into a Tamil adventurer and a history buff right here in Siem Reap?
He said: I am a Tamulian, because long before there was India, there were Tamils and a Tamil Culture.
While sitting with him at the Indian Restaurant opposite the provincial hospital, many people, tourists, residents or visitors all from India, kept on dropping by our table. All of them were favourably nationalistic about India, but they were not emptily boasting, like one tends to hear from the Indians living among the Westerners. Perhaps these Indians who are living in India are proud of their independence of thought and not having to play up to anyone or anybody.
An IT person, who was in the employ of TATA, was proud of his connection with the Communist Party, CPM. He wrote his address in detail in case I happen to be in his neighbourhood!
Two archeologists based in Madras, working on the rehabilitation of Tah Prohm temple on behalf of Archeological survey of India.
3. A soft spoken lady from NZ, who was doing her Khmer lessons and homework, when we began chatting at the Joe to Go café, where the upstairs was calm and conducive to writing or studying. We had a nice chat about everyday happiness, but did not have time to explore why she was in Siem Reap.
Yes there is a difference between backpackers who are here for two or three days, who strut around the ruins in their tuk tuks, in contrast to many others who come here to give of their time and expertise to bring a little bit of happiness to the others.
Here I was reminded of a great conversation I had long time ago about Myself vs Others
Some people, in fact the majority in our western world, is concerned about themselves, whether they are at home or backpackers in other countries. A small minority is concerned about others and usually end up much happier in their lives.
I have great respect for people who sacrifice for others. By the way the concept of Sacrifice is very important in most ancient philosophies.
4. At the airport, I saw a young lady hastily devouring her sandwich at the security check point. She had bought the sandwich a minute before, but the security people wouldn’t allow her to take it on board! The surrealism of the conflict between the east and the west! A little later I learned that she is Mexican, graduate of UTSA and now teaching English in a smaller town in Sumatra. It was good to speak Spanish while waiting for the plane to take us to KL!
And of course there were the usual Khmer friends made over the course of years...

Truly felt richer for these every day interactions with people with varying dreams!!