Monday, March 7, 2011


No one seems particularly perturbed or enraged by the traffic, or in a hurry to cut off another driver, or race ahead of the pack.  There is a zen approach to the chaotic street madness.  In fact, speed remains at an even, meditative rate and it is this very calculation that allows one to walk into traffic, or cross lanes to turn without disrupting the flow.  Without Buddhism, this city which lacks a subway system would rival Los Angeles when it comes to traffic, but it doesn't.  It is light years ahead of the City of Angels. 

Interestingly I have not seen one crying child in Cambodia.   I'm most certain there are no parenting books in publication, and children rarely hear "no", for there is no territory off limits to their exploration.  The detritus is their playground.  No one seems to scold them from playing near the traffic, with sharp knives, or exposed re bar.  Children sleep on motorbikes sandwiched between siblings and adults.  They go to work at a young age in the fields, or selling their parents' wares.  Their posture is that of young adults, hands on hips, strides of confidence and independence, yet they are children through and through, playful curious, and happy, always willing to look you in the eye and smile.

When the sun goes down, and a breeze from the river cools the city, life springs from every inch of concrete.  Food stalls, and television halls crowd the sidewalks.  Large spits roast carcasses.  The meat hacked with machetes and served with steaming vegetables.  Quartets play cards.  A man selling eggs pedaled by our tuk tuk, a recorded jingle emanated from a box at his side.  The rhythm is memorable, hypnotic just waiting for a talented DJ to sample.  A boy with an IV, saddled between his parents on a motorcycle, was aided with his dismount.  It's hard to take it all in, the cacophony, the absurdity, the synchronicity, the history of this war torn land.

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