Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 14, 2007

view from our upstairs balcony.

The neighbors from “Home Depot” continue to go out of their way to be kind and hospitable. Their little girl (maybe 12 yrs?) who speaks a little English has been coming over to talk to me, watch me cook and tell me how to say things. She’s even more animated, marker in hand, in front of our white board. And I am beginning to enjoy and appreciate her more. At first, to be honest, when I heard her cheerful “Hello!!” echoing in the house to announce her presence (there is no knocking in Cambodia), I would groan a little inside. I didn’t have much endurance for struggling to understand and be understood. And it takes a certain mindset to happily stop whatever I'm in the middle of to visit with those who drop by. But how can I resist her friendliness when she--and her older sisters--will patiently repeat the same thing, word by word, at least five times, letting me look up words in the dictionary until I finally understand? And she looks so pleased when I finally do!

Her family is always telling us to come and visit with them even though we can hardly understand one another. And when we do, they always bring out some food for us to try. A few days ago the dad sent over a tray of ban chow, sort of like crepes with pork and bean sprouts inside, from a noodle stand in the market. The mom went to the market with me this morning so I could buy all the ingredients for a certain soup (she sent me home with a big bowl of it the day before), then she came over and spent the morning showing me how to make it. They even brought over some bread for us to eat with it.

Today I helped one of the women sew beads and sequins on a lace shawl. They drape the lace over a frame (maybe 18” X 36”) on short legs with little nails sticking up around the top that poke through the lace to hold it on. Then they sew on the beads and sequins for a few weeks; usually a few friends will help. It’s the Khmer equivalent of a quilting bee. Whoever brought it to them will pay them $5 for their work. I don’t know how much that person then sells it for. While we were sewing she gave me what seemed to be a bean pop cycle (not as bad as it sounds) from a vender who came by, and a soft boiled duck egg from a different traveling vender. The egg came with seasoning folded up in a little square of used note paper. It was quite good.

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