Skip to main content

Wait and see

The mango tree in the verandah at work has been loaded with fruit for the past 3 months. Nothing diabolical or sinister, if you think about the fact that it is, or rather, was the correct season for such activity anyway.

The reason I drag that fact into this post is because the mangoes that were a brilliant shade of green in May have obstinately remained the same colour till today. Got me thinking about how my time here so far, parallels the mangoes rather nicely. Sure, work goes on every day and when I leave Cambodia, I'll no doubt come up with the right phrases for the curriculum vitae... you know, the kind of spin that will leave the reader in no doubt that I was personal advisor to the UN Secretary-General, or something in the vicinity of that idea.

So far though, I do not feel like I've seen or experienced anything new. Culturally, of course. No matter how much I kid myself, I cannot help but think about how similar this country is to India. It robs me of any culture shock that may have existed. Initially, I resented it. Now, I've come around to the idea that maybe I was a tad mentally over-prepared to welcome new experiences. I blame the internet, where I read plenty about this country without pausing to consider that the literary soliloquies and/or condemnations were being written by people from the West. To them, Cambodia, with it's chaotic traffic, street stalls, colourful local markets and streets swarming with an eclectic mix of people, animals and vehicles, probably is an 'experience'. It is diametrically opposite to everything they have known about the world. To me, these factors are not new. And I'm still working on whether it's a good or a bad thing.

One thing I have come to realize is that I'm thankful for the people I consider friends. Someone I know maintains that there's a cut-off time by which we find the people who will be important in our lives... as family or as friends. I'd say that the cut-off exists for us identifying what qualities we value in people. Either way, there have been way too many days here where I have found myself in a battle of wills with the television in my room. I'd rather not depend on it for entertainment, but the kind of people I'd like to meet are in extremely short supply. Not being the chatty type & an introvert also contributes to my seemingly monastic lifestyle, I'll admit. But, I'd rather be me and live with it. I've now got a taste of what one babu went through in Boston and empathise.

Like India, Cambodia has superb potential as a country to be seen exclusively by motorbike. Unlike India, it seems a bit hard for me work even a short trip somewhere into the schedule. And I'd like to do that, if just for the insanely hilarious motorbike laws they have in this country. For various, extremely pertinent reasons though, I will not. Chief reason - the idea of biking it across this place alone is not appealing. For another, Mammon generally halts my flights of fancy by clearing his throat rather disapprovingly and pointing out the various similarities between moi and the proverbial church-mouse.

However, I will be travelling in a few weeks time... Angkor Wat is on the agenda. So is Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. As for the rest... well, you've seen one beach, you've seen them all. Or so I like to tell myself. I'll say this for Cambodia though. It's a great place to visit for 2 - 3 weeks. The people are generally friendly, the food is relatively cheap and the alcohol, definitely so. In 3 weeks, you can see all there is to be seen here. After that, you just might feel jaded. A feeling I'm definitely feeling.

Yet, during my Mexican stand-offs with the tv, I've come to grips with a few ideas. Firstly, I'm way more nonchalant about things and events that would have come under the 'catastrophe' category some years ago. Secondly, I now know that there is a difference between being a true traveller and being fond of the idea of travelling. People in the former category actually do so & those in the latter one... well, they subscribe 'exclusively' to the idea of perusing the Lonely Planet and working with Google Earth. Thirdly, even with all it's crap, there's no place like home. And if I am one of the lucky people out of 1.6 billion who can afford to say that, well...

Even a mango, given enough time, begins to get the idea.

Song for the moment: It's good to be king - Tom Petty

Comments

bhumika said…
...there is a difference between being a true traveller and being fond of the idea of travelling.

Well said.

Popular posts from this blog

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…

Don't get lost in heaven

There are things a person can do when presented with a 3-day weekend, one of which is to take an out-of-town trip to some charming spot where the hand of man has never set foot, in an attempt to get away from the daily hubbub of the metropolis. Only, it seems like everyone else and their dogs have the same idea. Ergo, you reach the previously mentioned idyllic paradise only to come face to face with a heaving mass of holidaymakers, many of whom are from your city and, if you are truly jinxed, from the same neighbourhood. It tries the soul, no?

Which is why I find the idea of coming home to Pune a splendid one. Apart from the comforts of home food, regular availability of drinkable tea and coffee and the delight of simply staring out the window, I don't do much. Of course, the pater usually has a list of errands to be run and I'm happy to roll up the sleeves and help out. Every now and then, friends make time and I fire up the old Kinetic and visit them. Basically, it's a …

Wedding Bells (not mine) - Part 1

Dear Reader,

Before we proceed on the narratives of November, let's get a delightful little factoid out of the way - this is the first time since 2011 that I've written more than 24 posts in a year! Sure, life was different back then; more incidents, jocular moments and energy to pen them all down. Perhaps the most critical factors were that many friends weren't shanghaied by matrimony and our existential timetable was less regulated. But, I ask: surely the mark of a good writer is being able to conjure something out of nothing when the inkwell of anecdotes runs dry. By that yardstick, I'm no good because I have struggled to average 2 posts a month. On the other hand, life is filled with enough tension as it is, so why add blogging to it?

There was a wedding in the family recently. A close cousin decided to take the plunge and propose that the rent be shared on a more permanent basis. Happily, she acquiesced, mayhaps anxious to share the joyous moment with certain mem…