Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

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Purportedly mentally ill man is chained by his leg to a support in an abandoned house in one of Cambodia’s provinces.  Source: TPO (or PTO) via Twitter

The first two photos in this post are said to have been taken in Cambodia, but I cannot vouch for their authenticity, date or anything else about them.  They showed up in my Twitter feed with “PTO” as the source but, in a subsequent message, corrected as “TPO.”

Whether as real as they appear to be, the photos strike me as emblematic of how misunderstood mental illness is in Cambodia, how inadequate is its treatment and how brutal can be efforts to control severe cases.

Below is the second photo in the Twitter item, included only below because, in my opinion, it is far too sensational to put at the top. Continue reading

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In Phnom Penh, home often is where the tuk-tuk parks

See you again in September

It is a common enough sight to see tuk-tuk drivers sound asleep with their bare feet sticking outside their vehicles, mostly rented for $100 a month more or less, when the sun is high.

Less frequently, a pedestrian may well spot drivers taking more than a short nap when it is dark.

There is a simple reason: Continue reading

Like others, Cambodians have their own verbal habits

5 Aug - 1When they answer their ubiquitous cellphones, Cambodians begin by saying Hallo, which is not a typo.  I suspect the word has its roots from the years that this nation was a protectorate of France, where they don’t pronounce the h” and the first sound is “ah.”

The telephone greeting often is linked to the Khmer phrase for “how are you?”  The populace apparently has tired of the words, and many can be counted on to reassemble the few syllables in their response to amuse themselves.

When I answer the way they do, I await Continue reading

Homelessness is not surprising, but its face has changed

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Visitors to Europe expect to see sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum and remnants of the Berlin Wall.  Probably most also are little surprised to see homeless individuals on the street.

But the sight of homeless (presumably) whole families like the ones in three of my photos here can be jarring.  I know that I was shocked to see Continue reading

You’re lucky to see more than two stars over the capital

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At the edge of a slim park dividing Sihanouk Boulevard, an advertising sign insults most views east. It obscures the top of Independence Monument, which commemorates a modern achievement and is a two-minute walk from the sign. One end of the NagaWorld complex lurks above the trees at right.

They are immense, nearly blinding in intensity and grotesquely damaging to the experience of living in Phnom Penh.

They are advertising displays mounted on brutally big columns, except in the case of the NagaWorld casino and hotel complex, where Continue reading

Have you ever spotted or heard of this kind of cat?

Walk by a Phnom Penh wat — translated here as “pagoda” or “temple” — and you are likely to encounter what I think of as a special breed of cat: the pagoda cat.

As dusk approaches, you also may encounter a special breed of human: Continue reading

Surprisingly, New York City is loosening its grip on me

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The Oculus, imposing portion of New York’s transit hub cum shopping mall that I photographed near One World Trade Center (also called Freedom Tower) in downtown Manhattan.

Thirty-five years.

That is how long I had made my home in New York City — only in Manhattan, from Washington Heights to Greenwich Village — in two long periods before moving to Phnom Penh toward the end of 2013.

How I loved New York over any other place I had lived such as Boston, San Francisco, Hartford and the Washington, D.C. area, where I went in my relative youth to work in the Pentagon and again, in 1995.  At that time, I worked in the U.S. Treasury Department before heading back to Manhattan in 2006 after having transitioned to real estate sales.

To my mind, Manhattan’s highlights run the gamut of the many clichés that you know as well as I do — energy, diversity, cultural opportunities, Central Park and, among so many other attributes, paradise for a food lover.
Continue reading