finding and loosing focus

February 13, 2009 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

The worst thing about my housing situation is that my room has hardly any air circulation. On the exterior it looks like a fine house, inside it’s spacious with very high ceilings, and our room gets enough sunlight. However, I am one of those who opens windows in the winter and sleeps comfortably only when there is a breeze against my skin. So sleeping in a room without air circulation has been an unpleasant and depressing challenge.

Another challenge has been having to structure my days according to my teaching commitments. I can’t wait for freedom – from this house, from the time constraints of teaching, from the quietness, solitude and mosquitoes at night. Although i will miss teaching. One of the things I really enjoyed was being surrounded by my peers. I doubt I would have enjoyed teaching this much had my students been younger because then my job would have been that of a disciplinarian (which doesn’t come naturally to me and is pretty boring in my opinion)


Sopheap, the volunteer coordinator and me

Last night I went to a gay night at one of the night clubs. There were a few good beats but mostly the music consisted of electronic remixes of 90s pop songs I didn’t like. I jumped, shook my hips, all that fun stuff. Sometimes dancing is meditation, mysticism, a frenzied reaction to the music, an expression of desire… this night it was simply exercise.


Motos and tuk-tuks outside Revolution bar

These are tuk tuk and moto-taxi drivers waiting for customers to leave a bar… Western music is playing inside the bar and people are dancing. It’s a funny and sad scene, these men who are of the same age as the attendants of the bar are pressed into the role of observers because of their economic low. There’s something in the way they greet us that suggests an interest and desire to participate in our fun. Yet they remain outside, grouped together, isolated from us, watching, and bobbing a body-part of two to the rhythm while we ignore their existence until we are ready to go home and need a ride.


Jammin' & dancing at Revolution bar

Lately many motorbikes have been getting stolen. My friend’s was stolen two days ago. He attributes this wave of theft to the economic recession that is beginning to affect Cambodia.


Saturday afternoon along the Sisoway

I’ve started to think a little more openly about globalization. Back in New York, I gave preference to things grown and made in the USA because of a faith that these things were created with less negative impact on social environments. But living here and having more access to Asian news, I see how eager people are to get jobs in factories set up by foreigners because these jobs pay better than any other job available to them. I read about garment factories laying off employs who in desperation return to their home villages which are unable to sustain them. In Cambodia, at least, garment factory workers do strike. Although the actions from the management that lead to these strikes are often disgraceful.

Economists have suggested that there is a correlation between a strong economy and consumerism. I want to help the economy… but I just don’t care that much for attaining material things or the social stratification that it precludes and allocates. So which way maximilizes good and for whom? Buy local, organic? Limit our spending or maximize it? Eat more vegetables, eat less meat? I don’t know!

One of my ways of “solving” this dilemma is to pay more respect to my emotions regarding these issues. Reasonable reactions are harder to come by because facts always change (environments are fluid, statistics are incomplete) but emotional responses are always true (if only because the source of them is you).


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , , .

“Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do.” – Wilde one more week of teaching

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