Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lingering on Mondulikiri

I know this post should be about the Christmas holiday and how great it was - it really was a good holiday, one of the best I've had in years and a perfect way to punctuate what has been an incredible, if not stressful and intense, year.

But this morning, I'm not thinking of Christmas dinner, nor of the refrigerator full of tamales, carne asada, ham, brussel sprouts with bacon, mocha cake, red velvet cake, cheesecake, som tam (Thai papaya salad), sticky rice, or lumpia (egg rolls) left over from that night.

My mind is going back to the week I spent in Mondulikiri province before I flew back home, to the really strange day I was holed up in Bananas, a shack-cum-restaurant situated near the trickling river, where I ate homemade bread and Dutch meatballs served up by a German expat who had called the place home for several years.  All day, I wrote frantically, well aware that I had to fly home in less than 48 hours.  It was cold.  I had a scarf and fleece jacket one (unheard of in Cambodia), and when the wind blew, the shack shook and shook.  As you looked up, the holes in the roof were visible, light streaming in.  Around me, a hungry bulldog begged for food, while I had to move my coffee cup, to and fro, away from the two grey and white kittens jumping into my lap, onto the desk.

I thought of this because the past week has been a break from work and revisions and clarifications.  But I'm now back, working remotely.  The paper launches in Australia in February, or so I've been told.  It is crunch time, they say.

When I think of Cambodia, of colleagues and friends there, of my work and then compare  those images to my few days spent home, to the few hours in crowded malls and in busy streets lined with more modernity, affluence, and mobility than I've seen in the last 12 months, the whole Cambodia experience seems so distant and surreal.

This is absolutely cliche, but I just don't think I'll ever be the same.

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