November 15, 2010

The risk of staying too much in one country.. that you begin behaving like locals. Well, it is not really a risk, depending on what that behavior is :-) But our power of adaptation is incredible I have come to realize in these 5 months here. And you yourself don't realize your new/borrowed behavior until an outsider comes and tells you hey, you have changed... This is how I realized at least.. It was a friend visiting me for a couple of days who told me, hey, you start behaving just like them...and by that she was referring to the way I speak.
Cambodians have a very interesting way of speaking, depending on the point they want to make. It is always with a smile on their face and even a laugh, regardless of what they are saying- whether it is something funny/ a nice story/or a horrific event. And Cambodians will never raise their voice or yell to you. And if you do raise your voice to them, they will stop listening to you and just leave...
Women for instance when they speak to each other they sound like two chickens fighting. But they can turn their voices and attitude into a very soft and sweet voice, when they are trying to convince you to do something..especially when they talk to men.
Men on the other hand, well they always laugh, and they are rarely fighting. And they are extremely funny when negotiating with you, for instance for the tuk tuk ride. They start to make funny faces and funny noises, so they can convince you that they want more, they become like little cats 'miauw-ing' :-))) And my friend she tells me I have borrowed this very well, and not only when negotiating with them or in the market with the women, but also when talking to her, in Romanian :))) it must be very funny i guess...

November 10, 2010

Cambodian trivia

Did you know that:

- Cambodian men dye their hair? That is why you almost never see people with white hair here :)
- In restaurants, everything is thrown under the table, from tissues to chicken bones and cigarette buds. You cannot imagine the mess on the floors at the end of a night..
- Everything is eaten here, from all sorts of insects, to the chicken's toes and head...
- People, when they walk (very rarely that is), they never use the sidewalk. Probably they're used to being on the moto all the time...

November 08, 2010

The Cambodian ultimate experience: KARAOKE

If you stay long enough around, there will be at least one chance of being invited to go out to karaoke. In my organization, farewell parties for colleagues take place at the karaoke. So a big room is rented and everyone is invited. Once you get there you take your place on the couch, as there are huge couches in one side of the room, the other side, across the couches and tables, is taken of course by the huge TV screens. The music starts right as the first guests arrive. Cambodians do not need much incentive or alcohol for that matter, in order to perform. They all sit down and sing, until someone takes the microphone and breaks the ice. And then whoever wants to sing, sings. People are not shy at all, irrespective of their voices. Don’t get me wrong, the majority have very nice voices, and a talent to sing, but not all do.. :) After 5 minutes there, I was already being asked what I wanted to sing..I said maybe later, thinking that I will get out of it before I know it…I needed a bit of encouragement, if you know what I mean. Karaoke where I come from is more like a collective craziness of drunk people, here people respect each other, and they take singing very seriously. Each one chooses a song which he or she dully sings until the end, without anyone laughing at them. While one of them sings, all the others eat or enjoy a drink, but mostly eat. When the food part is over, the lights are being dimmed and people start dancing as well.
Oh yes, I didn’t tell you that the singing is performed in full light, well at least this is how it was when I had to sing “My heart will go on…” this is because the other option was “I don’t want to sleep alone..”?!?!? I also have to tell you that I didn’t have anything to drink and it was only half an hour after I arrived. I thought well if they do it, why shouldn’t I ?? hahaha it went well in the end they applauded me :-D hahahah
I was surprised to see how much passion my colleagues put into singing. People that at the office look very serious, well, in front of those TV screens they were giving it their best, with all the drama of a performer..impressing I must admit :D It is a paradox cause here people are very shy in general, however when it comes to singing in front of strangers, or work colleagues, they don’t have any issues.. :)
Cambodian music is mostly romantic music about love, and performed by couples. So of course, we had a fair share of couples singing together. The girl in one part of the room and the guy in the other, not looking at each other, just singing..I told you they really take it seriously here…
This would be a very interesting team building exercise for Europeans hahha

PS: My favourite Khmer song