Cambodia, Just Tell Me "Why!"

“A year, ten years from now, I'll remember this; not why, only that we were here like this, together.” -Adrienne Rich

If you are in Cambodia long enough, you figure out that there are things that just don't make sense in this country. Like, why is it when you walk past a moto driver and are heading down the street in the opposite direction that he then decides to call on you and offer a ride? Or, why do all retailers sell the same product in the same area of town - a street for bikes, a street for light bulbs, a street for pomellos?

In my most recent encounter with the bizarro, I can plug in my computer in my office, but in my bedroom it refuses to charge. Why?

There seem to be an endless number of quirks about this country. There are questions that will never be answered.

Why is it ok to drive down the wrong side of the road?
Why is it ok to buy meat covered in flies but fruit after 3 p.m. is a bad idea?
Why do people feel the need to buy GPS systems when the roads change every three months?

I've driven myself to tedium trying to answer the unanswerable. I've always been the one to question norms and generalizations, only to find that I myself have been living inside my own box labeled "Normal." It's a devastating reality, but one of the joys have having lived in a culture so different than my own.

After spending some time in Cambodia, you learn to stop asking "why?" at the unnecessary and trivial and just learn to be. Of course, there are times when you let your guard down and all you want to jump up and down in the middle of the street screaming and crying and throwing a royal temper tantrum because it all just doesn't make sense. But it's a beautiful revelation to find that piece within yourself that makes it is possible to live outside the comfortable and familiar, to realize that my way of doing things isn't necessarily equivalent to the right way of doing things. (If there even is such thing as the right way.)

Perhaps it's the ambiguity of life in Cambodia that makes living here so attractive at times. I often wonder, when will the impacts of my experience here set in? Can I already see changes in myself? Will these changes be evident when I step foot on home soil? Maybe the lessons of Cambodia won't reveal themselves until five or 10 years from now.

By then, I predict the obstacles of "why?" will become obsolete. (At least I hope I won't be haunted by the ever present conundrum of Cambodian daily life.) Maybe I'll even yearn for the day when life doesn't have to be explained.


Crys said...

He he, I think there are a lot of things in America that don't make sense. :)

KBrock said...

I would think once you get back to America, you'll see the same sort of stupid "why?" questions here. Your perspective has changed, and I'd assume it will be an adjustment back. Don't drive yourself crazy with the why's. Some things, like a Starbucks and Walgreens on every corner just don't make sense.