Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Until my ship sailed to Sihanoukville I did not even know that such a town existed. Cambodia is usually all about Angkor Wat and being the blind tourist that I am, I had never thought about the places that lie beyond.
Sihanoukville is one of the main cities in Cambodia. As a country Cambodia is in the early stages of industrial development and so the atmosphere is one where the people are still bonded to each other and not their material possessions.
Usually, in any city, one of the places that I visit is the market as it reveals the life of the local people. The interactions, the things they buy and sell, the mix of the buyers ad sellers, all offer some insight into their days.
I had heard my children say once, of one of the cities that they had visited in Canada that everyone is so nice – they all greet each other and smile even strangers they meet on the road. And they lamented that this culture was absent elsewhere. Their observation stayed on my mind and I often thought about the factors that lead society to either be overtly pleasant / to give up its pleasantries.
In Sihanoukville, I did not hear any ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Thank you’ or ‘Excuse me’. These were the words taught to us as signs of courteousness / good manners and conversely it also meant that failing to say these implied bad manners.
Then in market, as I observed people going about their daily lives, I saw that in the most crowded places, they’d make place for one more. They’d step aside for a man carrying a burden. Children of strangers were attended to in times of need. No words of formal pleasantry were exchanged. Yet everyone acted in a way to help each other.
Here I realised that people can express politeness and courtesy by acting gracefully in complete silence in every single act of their lives instead of through spoken words.
Here are some pictures of the streets of Sihanoukville. In these photos, one might find the simple charm of another world, or one may find things that are ‘I couldn’t do that’ – it depends on the mindset.
The means of carrying goods & people are unique in Cambodial! The motorcyle-taxi – with the passenger-carriage being drawn by the motorbike is so innovative!
The petrol points must have been further out in the city creating a little business opportunity for this man.
Selling everything under the sun – from Gold & clothes to flowers & food. Many of the foods / fruits I have never seen before even though I live in the same region.
Where one can get oneself weighed for a little money.
Sale of things that one offers to ancestors: Incense, paper money, toy houses etc.
The diet, based on the supply in this market appears to be mainly seafood – fresh as well as dried.
A hammock for the shopkeeper in case he gets tired of selling.
Repackaged oil – put in affordable little ‘3-day’ packs.
The preferred mode of carrying weight seemed to be the shoulder beam from which the baskets filled with goods hung. So much physics in daily life!
Hot snacks for shoppers
A little Bakery
And finally the most endearing photos of Sihanoukville:
A toy seller with her infant – that shows that in the end we all are the same.
The Charm of Small Town – Sihanoukville, Cambodia