Friday, May 30

Parallel Universe

Before I came to Cambodia, the thought crossed my mind that this trip would provide an excellent bit of impetus to my blogging. That is, I dreamed of writing posts furiously through the night... posts which had breathtaking detail in every line, startling observations, eye-catching photos, insightful observations and so on and so forth. For a time, as I made my way from Birmingham to Phnom Penh, there were plenty of the above resulting in an update every few days. The wheels came off that literary wagon the day I landed here.

Ironic, I know. However, as I wrote and deleted words, lines and paragraphs time and again over the last 2 weeks, I decided one thing - the next post would not be the typical read comparing different worlds, talking about culture shock and whatnot. What will I be writing about then ? Hmm...

One thing I did notice... it's easier to find and move into a new house the second time around. After having gone through that circus in the U.S, finding an apartment and dealing with the logistics of moving in came very naturally. Fate was on my side as far as finding a place was concerned. When a very dehydrated moi visited the apartment building of one of the other interns, a house was being vacated at the time. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth (to be translated as: after Self bargained hard and furiously with the landlady over the rent, amenities & utilities) I moved in to Apt. 2, 206 Norodom Blvd. Great location i.e. close to work and not far from Sisowath Quay which is the riverside, which in turn means pubs and restaurants literally fighting each other for space along the banks of the Sap River. Pub-hopping is the easiest thing here; just exit from one and literally just step through the next door. Repeat till drunk.

Sipping on an Angkor beer on the balcony of the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) at Happy Hour, watching the sun set at the intersection of the Sap and Mekong rivers... is a nice way to realize that you actually have arrived in Cambodia. The FCC, by the way, has a lovely collection of photos taken by journalists from years ago. Rather putting-off maybe, to be reminded of savagery, brutality and the loss of innocence as you are tucking into a nice meal, but I personally liked it. There are good and bad realizations... and gentle reminders of our own good fortune never hurt anyone.

Cambodia is 'Development Central' as far as the world is concerned. I have never seen such a hodge-podge of international aid organizations and NGO's comfortably resting against each other (figuratively speaking) in any other country. Foreign aid contributes 50% of the National Budget... yes, you read that right. Thanks to this state of affairs, political power is indescribably important. Whomsoever is in power controls the development of the country, and so the funds. And also the bribes.

Working for the UNODC has been interesting so far & I got thrown into the deep end of the pool from day one. The work has been non-stop, which I appreciate and today has been the first slow day since I got here. What have I learned so far ?

That the title United Nations does not necessarily translate into a glamorous setup a.ka. the Secretariat Building in NYC. That is an altogether different world. There's plenty to explore here, though.

Song for the moment: Eye of the tiger - Survivor

4 comments:

bhumika said...

Its always good to get a glimpse of the new place through this post. Yeah, this time it was more descriptive than the clashing of cultures. Sometimes it's better to observe than analyze.

Just a thought - why don't you come up with some picture posts? It would be interesting to see the world i've been imagining through your posts :)

And i speak this from experience - once you are away from blogging, it takes a really long time to come back. So pls keep it going...

girish said...

thank u for commenting.
& point noted about pictures. I did have that in mind, but haven't had the opportunity to take any real photographs so far. Will get to it.

Ashish said...

Welcome back saar!!!
Eagerly awaited, and plis to be continuing.
And how good is the beer, really?

Gaurav said...

hey i would like to ask how many times did you exit and enter from door to door?

Also can you please elaborate littile on this:
international aid organizations and NGO's comfortably resting against each other (figuratively speaking) in any other country. What does it really mean?
and if you can just compare it with Indian scenario, it would be great.