Skip to main content

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

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Last of my kind

(This post hasn't come out as well as I wanted. But I'm still pissed off, so.)

Why do we have heroes? What is it about someone that triggers a decision to nail our colours to their mast? I don't have a neat answer so what you read from here on is both an explanation and an exploration. In a post-modern world driven by counter-points, certainty is a luxury.

I missed the boat when it came to India's ODI cricket madness. We moved abroad in the late 80s. When I left, my friends and I wanted to be Kapil, Kris or Sunil. When I returned, god was getting comfortable on his heavenly couch and all was right with a world I did not recognise. I had missed Sachin's opening batsman debut against New Zealand, the hullabaloo of the Hero Cup and other notable moments. So, I was interested in cricket, not any particular sportsman. Not even during the '96 World Cup. When India muffed it against Sri Lanka, I hurt for the team, not for a player.

Then came Dravid. And, personally, …

Let her go

Have you noticed how we throw things out a lot more than before? Of course, city-dwellers like us have more, now that disposable incomes are the norm. Does it also allow us to dispose of things so easily? I was the object of much mirth/ridicule at work today because I wanted to get a golf umbrella repaired. One colleague wondered if it was worth the effort, another asked why I did not just buy a different one while others chuckled when they realised neither of these thoughts had occurred to me. I trudged off, wondering if they were right. What exactly was driving me to take the trouble?

I think back to to the 80s and living in my Thatha's (grandpa) house. Today's 'use-and-throw' culture would have shocked him to the core. The man was the epitome of prudence. Since we weren't exactly floating in doubloons, the family followed suit. Thatha wore the same watch for over 50 years. A small umbrella, bought by my mother with her first salary, was well on its way to becom…