There is more than one way I can’t pass for Cambodian


Tuk-tuk and moto drivers often congregate to play chess or cards while waiting for fares. 

My appearance is the most obvious way no one would mistake me for a Cambodian.  Of course, there are numerous other reasons.

One that has proved to be inescapable is a position favored here by man, woman and child for activities as varied as eating, playing a version of chess and merely whiling away some time, often a lot of time.

What they do effortlessly and clearly without discomfort is squat.

I suppose there were years in my early life when I could do that, but those days are decades past.  Hell, I can’t sit in a basic yoga starting position without falling backward, so reduced is my flexibility.

I do remember a college roommate who played the catcher position in baseball and used to boast about his ability to maintain a squat for long periods of time.  (He didn’t have that much memorable to discuss, it seems, though I confess to having envied his achievement.)

Certainly, I’ll never be taken for a native speaker, someone whose body type is typical of an Asian or a lover of all foods Khmer (think fried larvae and barbecued snakes, among other treats such as, I don’t know, rats).

Even if I could surmount those obstacles, I know I’ll never get my old knees to comply with squatting for more than a few moments.  I guess I’ll just have to get used to being a stranger in another land.



One thought on “There is more than one way I can’t pass for Cambodian

  1. Ha! Oh, yes. I’ve seen women all over southeast Asia squatting in open markets, their wares spread out before them, for hours at a time. If I attempt to squat as they do, I must balance on the balls of my feet (because my heels won’t reach the ground), and I risk falling forward, breaking my nose and falling face-first into their neatly arranged cabbages and mackerel.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s