Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Saved from death by the Khmer Rouge
I spent the day on Sunday out in the way out countryside in order to attend a special ceremony organized by my man's grandfather in order to thank a man in that village for saving him from death by the Khmer Rouge.
Now, for outsiders these ceremonies are quite boring. I was bored. The main attraction is for the old folks to sit around ceremoniously chanting. They are later joined by monks, who must only come to legitimize the ceremony and get a free meal. Monks are served their food first and everyone else must wait to eat until they are finished. As soon as they eat, the monks take off with their monk bowls full of rice and special monk gift baskets with all those things monks might want or need: candles, canned milk, coffee, tea, notebooks, noodles, and so on.
So the old people do the ceremony, the men help set up and haul the heavy things and cook the rice or sit around. The women prepare the food and do the cooking. The young people set tables, serve rice, wash dishes and sit around chatting with each other. The children play, as usual.
That leaves me with nothing to do but sitting around. Why? Because the women don't want me, as a foreigner seen with a higher position, to do any hard work. It's a hard thing to grasp because I don't want to be put on a pedestal, but have to understand their idea of status postions. The other thing is my language abilities just aren't good enough to clearly communicate.